The special unicode character \uff0d in MS SQLServer

Xianying Tan


It’s currently 01:57 a.m in Beijing. I’m still awake, thanks to the “great” unicode \uff0d, whose official name is “FULLWIDTH HYPHEN-MINUS” (the print of the character is , very similar to -).

Why I’m calling it the “great” “special” unicode?

MS SQLServer (at least for the version I use - 2014) somehow recognizes \uff0d(-) as if it was - (the normal minus sign).

What do I mean? Let’s say you have a table created like this:

CREATE TABLE table_test (
COL1 as nvarchar(10),

After you insert the value a-b where - is the normal minus sign, the surprising thing will happen:

insert into table_test values('a-b');

will always result in an error saying it violates the primary key constraints. Trust me I’ve tried various ways including adding a so-called unicode prefix 'N', using 'a'+ nchar(65293)+'b', etc - all of them failed.

What’s even strange is that MS SQLServer stores them differently. It means if I delete the primary key constraints then insert the two values into the table. I can see the two records are clearly different, one is - (the normal minus) and the other is (the great \uff0d).

Haven’t googled out the cause yet… For now just use a workaround and let it go… Really really don’t want to waste the precious time on this kind of issues any more… 😢

Update (@2020-04-02): It’s possible that the relationship between the two characters is similar to that of the lower and upper cases, considering the fact that MS SQLServer ignores cases by default when comparing strings. Nevertheless, this is just my guess without verification.