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       perlglossary - Perl Glossary


       version 5.021011


       A glossary of terms (technical and otherwise) used in the Perl documentation, derived from
       the Glossary of Programming Perl, Fourth Edition.  Words or phrases in bold are defined
       elsewhere in this glossary.

       Other useful sources include the Unicode Glossary <>, the Free
       On-Line Dictionary of Computing <>, the Jargon File
       <>, and Wikipedia <>.

       accessor methods
           A method used to indirectly inspect or update an object’s state (its instance

       actual arguments
           The scalar values that you supply to a function or subroutine when you call it. For
           instance, when you call "power("puff")", the string "puff" is the actual argument. See
           also argument and formal arguments.

       address operator
           Some languages work directly with the memory addresses of values, but this can be like
           playing with fire. Perl provides a set of asbestos gloves for handling all memory
           management. The closest to an address operator in Perl is the backslash operator, but
           it gives you a hard reference, which is much safer than a memory address.

           A well-defined sequence of steps, explained clearly enough that even a computer could
           do them.

           A nickname for something, which behaves in all ways as though you’d used the original
           name instead of the nickname. Temporary aliases are implicitly created in the loop
           variable for "foreach" loops, in the $_ variable for "map" or "grep" operators, in $a
           and $b during "sort"’s comparison function, and in each element of @_ for the actual
           arguments of a subroutine call. Permanent aliases are explicitly created in packages
           by importing symbols or by assignment to typeglobs. Lexically scoped aliases for
           package variables are explicitly created by the "our" declaration.

           The sort of characters we put into words. In Unicode, this is all letters including
           all ideographs and certain diacritics, letter numbers like Roman numerals, and various
           combining marks.

           A list of possible choices from which you may select only one, as in, “Would you like
           door A, B, or C?” Alternatives in regular expressions are separated with a single
           vertical bar: "|".  Alternatives in normal Perl expressions are separated with a
           double vertical bar: "||". Logical alternatives in Boolean expressions are separated
           with either "||" or "or".

           Used to describe a referent that is not directly accessible through a named variable.
           Such a referent must be indirectly accessible through at least one hard reference.
           When the last hard reference goes away, the anonymous referent is destroyed without

           A bigger, fancier sort of program with a fancier name so people don’t realize they are
           using a program.

           The kind of computer you’re working on, where one “kind of computer” means all those
           computers sharing a compatible machine language.  Since Perl programs are (typically)
           simple text files, not executable images, a Perl program is much less sensitive to the
           architecture it’s running on than programs in other languages, such as C, that are
           compiled into machine code. See also platform and operating system.

           A piece of data supplied to a program, subroutine, function, or method to tell it what
           it’s supposed to do. Also called a “parameter”.

           The name of the array containing the argument vector from the command line. If you use
           the empty "<>" operator, "ARGV" is the name of both the filehandle used to traverse
           the arguments and the scalar containing the name of the current input file.

       arithmetical operator
           A symbol such as "+" or "/" that tells Perl to do the arithmetic you were supposed to
           learn in grade school.

           An ordered sequence of values, stored such that you can easily access any of the
           values using an integer subscript that specifies the value’s offset in the sequence.

       array context
           An archaic expression for what is more correctly referred to as list context.

       Artistic License
           The open source license that Larry Wall created for Perl, maximizing Perl’s
           usefulness, availability, and modifiability. The current version is 2.

           The American Standard Code for Information Interchange (a 7-bit character set adequate
           only for poorly representing English text). Often used loosely to describe the lowest
           128 values of the various ISO-8859-X character sets, a bunch of mutually incompatible
           8-bit codes best described as half ASCII. See also Unicode.

           A component of a regular expression that must be true for the pattern to match but
           does not necessarily match any characters itself. Often used specifically to mean a
           zero-width assertion.

           An operator whose assigned mission in life is to change the value of a variable.

       assignment operator
           Either a regular assignment or a compound operator composed of an ordinary assignment
           and some other operator, that changes the value of a variable in place; that is,
           relative to its old value. For example, "$a += 2" adds 2 to $a.

       associative array
           See hash. Please. The term associative array is the old Perl 4 term for a hash. Some
           languages call it a dictionary.

           Determines whether you do the left operator first or the right operator first when you
           have “A operator B operator C”, and the two operators are of the same precedence.
           Operators like "+" are left associative, while operators like "**" are right
           associative. See Camel chapter 3, “Unary and Binary Operators” for a list of operators
           and their associativity.

           Said of events or activities whose relative temporal ordering is indeterminate because
           too many things are going on at once. Hence, an asynchronous event is one you didn’t
           know when to expect.

           A regular expression component potentially matching a substring containing one or more
           characters and treated as an indivisible syntactic unit by any following quantifier.
           (Contrast with an assertion that matches something of zero width and may not be

       atomic operation
           When Democritus gave the word “atom” to the indivisible bits of matter, he meant
           literally something that could not be cut: ἀ- (not) + -τομος (cuttable). An atomic
           operation is an action that can’t be interrupted, not one forbidden in a nuclear-free

           A new feature that allows the declaration of variables and subroutines with modifiers,
           as in "sub foo : locked method". Also another name for an instance variable of an

           A feature of operator overloading of objects, whereby the behavior of certain
           operators can be reasonably deduced using more fundamental operators. This assumes
           that the overloaded operators will often have the same relationships as the regular
           operators. See Camel chapter 13, “Overloading”.

           To add one to something automatically, hence the name of the "++" operator. To instead
           subtract one from something automatically is known as an “autodecrement”.

           To load on demand. (Also called “lazy” loading.)  Specifically, to call an "AUTOLOAD"
           subroutine on behalf of an undefined subroutine.

           To split a string automatically, as the –a switch does when running under –p or –n in
           order to emulate awk. (See also the "AutoSplit" module, which has nothing to do with
           the "–a" switch but a lot to do with autoloading.)

           A Graeco-Roman word meaning “to bring oneself to life”.  In Perl, storage locations
           (lvalues) spontaneously generate themselves as needed, including the creation of any
           hard reference values to point to the next level of storage. The assignment
           "$a[5][5][5][5][5] = "quintet"" potentially creates five scalar storage locations,
           plus four references (in the first four scalar locations) pointing to four new
           anonymous arrays (to hold the last four scalar locations). But the point of
           autovivification is that you don’t have to worry about it.

       AV  Short for “array value”, which refers to one of Perl’s internal data types that holds
           an array. The "AV" type is a subclass of SV.

       awk Descriptive editing term—short for “awkward”. Also coincidentally refers to a
           venerable text-processing language from which Perl derived some of its high-level

           A substring captured by a subpattern within unadorned parentheses in a regex.
           Backslashed decimal numbers ("\1", "\2", etc.) later in the same pattern refer back to
           the corresponding subpattern in the current match. Outside the pattern, the numbered
           variables ($1, $2, etc.) continue to refer to these same values, as long as the
           pattern was the last successful match of the current dynamic scope.

           The practice of saying, “If I had to do it all over, I’d do it differently,” and then
           actually going back and doing it all over differently. Mathematically speaking, it’s
           returning from an unsuccessful recursion on a tree of possibilities. Perl backtracks
           when it attempts to match patterns with a regular expression, and its earlier attempts
           don’t pan out. See the section “The Little Engine That /Couldn(n’t)” in Camel chapter
           5, “Pattern Matching”.

       backward compatibility
           Means you can still run your old program because we didn’t break any of the features
           or bugs it was relying on.

           A word sufficiently ambiguous to be deemed illegal under "use strict 'subs'". In the
           absence of that stricture, a bareword is treated as if quotes were around it.

       base class
           A generic object type; that is, a class from which other, more specific classes are
           derived genetically by inheritance. Also called a “superclass” by people who respect
           their ancestors.

           From Swift: someone who eats eggs big end first. Also used of computers that store the
           most significant byte of a word at a lower byte address than the least significant
           byte. Often considered superior to little-endian machines. See also little-endian.

           Having to do with numbers represented in base 2. That means there’s basically two
           numbers: 0 and 1. Also used to describe a file of “nontext”, presumably because such a
           file makes full use of all the binary bits in its bytes. With the advent of Unicode,
           this distinction, already suspect, loses even more of its meaning.

       binary operator
           An operator that takes two operands.

           To assign a specific network address to a socket.

       bit An integer in the range from 0 to 1, inclusive. The smallest possible unit of
           information storage. An eighth of a byte or of a dollar.  (The term “Pieces of Eight”
           comes from being able to split the old Spanish dollar into 8 bits, each of which still
           counted for money. That’s why a 25- cent piece today is still “two bits”.)

       bit shift
           The movement of bits left or right in a computer word, which has the effect of
           multiplying or dividing by a power of 2.

       bit string
           A sequence of bits that is actually being thought of as a sequence of bits, for once.

           In corporate life, to grant official approval to a thing, as in, “The VP of
           Engineering has blessed our WebCruncher project.” Similarly, in Perl, to grant
           official approval to a referent so that it can function as an object, such as a
           WebCruncher object. See the "bless" function in Camel chapter 27, “Functions”.

           What a process does when it has to wait for something: “My process blocked waiting for
           the disk.” As an unrelated noun, it refers to a large chunk of data, of a size that
           the operating system likes to deal with (normally a power of 2 such as 512 or 8192).
           Typically refers to a chunk of data that’s coming from or going to a disk file.

           A syntactic construct consisting of a sequence of Perl statements that is delimited by
           braces.  The "if" and "while" statements are defined in terms of "BLOCK"s, for
           instance. Sometimes we also say “block” to mean a lexical scope; that is, a sequence
           of statements that acts like a "BLOCK", such as within an "eval" or a file, even
           though the statements aren’t delimited by braces.

       block buffering
           A method of making input and output efficient by passing one block at a time. By
           default, Perl does block buffering to disk files. See buffer and command buffering.

           A value that is either true or false.

       Boolean context
           A special kind of scalar context used in conditionals to decide whether the scalar
           value returned by an expression is true or false. Does not evaluate as either a string
           or a number. See context.

           A spot in your program where you’ve told the debugger to stop execution so you can
           poke around and see whether anything is wrong yet.

           To send a datagram to multiple destinations simultaneously.

       BSD A psychoactive drug, popular in the ’80s, probably developed at UC Berkeley or
           thereabouts. Similar in many ways to the prescription-only medication called “System
           V”, but infinitely more useful. (Or, at least, more fun.) The full chemical name is
           “Berkeley Standard Distribution”.

           A location in a hash table containing (potentially) multiple entries whose keys “hash”
           to the same hash value according to its hash function. (As internal policy, you don’t
           have to worry about it unless you’re into internals, or policy.)

           A temporary holding location for data. Data that are Block buffering means that the
           data is passed on to its destination whenever the buffer is full. Line buffering means
           that it’s passed on whenever a complete line is received. Command buffering means that
           it’s passed every time you do a "print" command (or equivalent). If your output is
           unbuffered, the system processes it one byte at a time without the use of a holding
           area. This can be rather inefficient.

           A function that is predefined in the language. Even when hidden by overriding, you can
           always get at a built- in function by qualifying its name with the "CORE::"

           A group of related modules on CPAN. (Also sometimes refers to a group of command-line
           switches grouped into one switch cluster.)

           A piece of data worth eight bits in most places.

           A pidgin-like lingo spoken among ’droids when they don’t wish to reveal their
           orientation (see endian). Named after some similar languages spoken (for similar
           reasons) between compilers and interpreters in the late 20ᵗʰ century. These languages
           are characterized by representing everything as a nonarchitecture-dependent sequence
           of bytes.

       C   A language beloved by many for its inside-out type definitions, inscrutable precedence
           rules, and heavy overloading of the function-call mechanism. (Well, actually, people
           first switched to C because they found lowercase identifiers easier to read than
           upper.) Perl is written in C, so it’s not surprising that Perl borrowed a few ideas
           from it.

           A data repository. Instead of computing expensive answers several times, compute it
           once and save the result.

           A handler that you register with some other part of your program in the hope that the
           other part of your program will trigger your handler when some event of interest

       call by reference
           An argument-passing mechanism in which the formal arguments refer directly to the
           actual arguments, and the subroutine can change the actual arguments by changing the
           formal arguments. That is, the formal argument is an alias for the actual argument.
           See also call by value.

       call by value
           An argument-passing mechanism in which the formal arguments refer to a copy of the
           actual arguments, and the subroutine cannot change the actual arguments by changing
           the formal arguments. See also call by reference.

           Reduced to a standard form to facilitate comparison.

       capture variables
           The variables—such as $1 and $2, and "%+" and "%– "—that hold the text remembered in a
           pattern match. See Camel chapter 5, “Pattern Matching”.

           The use of parentheses around a subpattern in a regular expression to store the
           matched substring as a backreference. (Captured strings are also returned as a list in
           list context.) See Camel chapter 5, “Pattern Matching”.

       cargo cult
           Copying and pasting code without understanding it, while superstitiously believing in
           its value. This term originated from preindustrial cultures dealing with the detritus
           of explorers and colonizers of technologically advanced cultures. See The Gods Must Be

           A property of certain characters. Originally, typesetter stored capital letters in the
           upper of two cases and small letters in the lower one. Unicode recognizes three cases:
           lowercase (character property "\p{lower}"), titlecase ("\p{title}"), and uppercase
           ("\p{upper}"). A fourth casemapping called foldcase is not itself a distinct case, but
           it is used internally to implement casefolding. Not all letters have case, and some
           nonletters have case.

           Comparing or matching a string case-insensitively. In Perl, it is implemented with the
           "/i" pattern modifier, the "fc" function, and the "\F" double-quote translation

           The process of converting a string to one of the four Unicode casemaps; in Perl, it is
           implemented with the "fc", "lc", "ucfirst", and "uc" functions.

           The smallest individual element of a string. Computers store characters as integers,
           but Perl lets you operate on them as text. The integer used to represent a particular
           character is called that character’s codepoint.

       character class
           A square-bracketed list of characters used in a regular expression to indicate that
           any character of the set may occur at a given point. Loosely, any predefined set of
           characters so used.

       character property
           A predefined character class matchable by the "\p" or "\P" metasymbol. Unicode defines
           hundreds of standard properties for every possible codepoint, and Perl defines a few
           of its own, too.

       circumfix operator
           An operator that surrounds its operand, like the angle operator, or parentheses, or a

           A user-defined type, implemented in Perl via a package that provides (either directly
           or by inheritance) methods (that is, subroutines) to handle instances of the class
           (its objects). See also inheritance.

       class method
           A method whose invocant is a package name, not an object reference. A method
           associated with the class as a whole. Also see instance method.

           In networking, a process that initiates contact with a server process in order to
           exchange data and perhaps receive a service.

           An anonymous subroutine that, when a reference to it is generated at runtime, keeps
           track of the identities of externally visible lexical variables, even after those
           lexical variables have supposedly gone out of scope. They’re called “closures” because
           this sort of behavior gives mathematicians a sense of closure.

           A parenthesized subpattern used to group parts of a regular expression into a single

           The word returned by the "ref" function when you apply it to a reference to a
           subroutine. See also CV.

       code generator
           A system that writes code for you in a low-level language, such as code to implement
           the backend of a compiler. See program generator.

           The integer a computer uses to represent a given character. ASCII codepoints are in
           the range 0 to 127; Unicode codepoints are in the range 0 to 0x1F_FFFF; and Perl
           codepoints are in the range 0 to 2³²−1 or 0 to 2⁶⁴−1, depending on your native integer
           size. In Perl Culture, sometimes called ordinals.

       code subpattern
           A regular expression subpattern whose real purpose is to execute some Perl code—for
           example, the "(?{...})" and "(??{...})" subpatterns.

       collating sequence
           The order into which characters sort. This is used by string comparison routines to
           decide, for example, where in this glossary to put “collating sequence”.

           A person with permissions to index a namespace in PAUSE. Anyone can upload any
           namespace, but only primary and co-maintainers get their contributions indexed.

       combining character
           Any character with the General Category of Combining Mark ("\p{GC=M}"), which may be
           spacing or nonspacing. Some are even invisible. A sequence of combining characters
           following a grapheme base character together make up a single user-visible character
           called a grapheme. Most but not all diacritics are combining characters, and vice

           In shell programming, the syntactic combination of a program name and its arguments.
           More loosely, anything you type to a shell (a command interpreter) that starts it
           doing something. Even more loosely, a Perl statement, which might start with a label
           and typically ends with a semicolon.

       command buffering
           A mechanism in Perl that lets you store up the output of each Perl command and then
           flush it out as a single request to the operating system. It’s enabled by setting the
           $| ($AUTOFLUSH) variable to a true value. It’s used when you don’t want data sitting
           around, not going where it’s supposed to, which may happen because the default on a
           file or pipe is to use block buffering.

       command-line arguments
           The values you supply along with a program name when you tell a shell to execute a
           command.  These values are passed to a Perl program through @ARGV.

       command name
           The name of the program currently executing, as typed on the command line. In C, the
           command name is passed to the program as the first command-line argument. In Perl, it
           comes in separately as $0.

           A remark that doesn’t affect the meaning of the program.  In Perl, a comment is
           introduced by a "#" character and continues to the end of the line.

       compilation unit
           The file (or string, in the case of "eval") that is currently being compiled.

           The process of turning source code into a machine-usable form. See compile phase.

       compile phase
           Any time before Perl starts running your main program. See also run phase. Compile
           phase is mostly spent in compile time, but may also be spent in runtime when "BEGIN"
           blocks, "use" or "no" declarations, or constant subexpressions are being evaluated.
           The startup and import code of any "use" declaration is also run during compile phase.

           Strictly speaking, a program that munches up another program and spits out yet another
           file containing the program in a “more executable” form, typically containing native
           machine instructions.  The perl program is not a compiler by this definition, but it
           does contain a kind of compiler that takes a program and turns it into a more
           executable form (syntax trees) within the perl process itself, which the interpreter
           then interprets. There are, however, extension modules to get Perl to act more like a
           “real” compiler. See Camel chapter 16, “Compiling”.

       compile time
           The time when Perl is trying to make sense of your code, as opposed to when it thinks
           it knows what your code means and is merely trying to do what it thinks your code says
           to do, which is runtime.

           A “constructor” for a referent that isn’t really an object, like an anonymous array or
           a hash (or a sonata, for that matter).  For example, a pair of braces acts as a
           composer for a hash, and a pair of brackets acts as a composer for an array. See the
           section “Creating References” in Camel chapter 8, “References”.

           The process of gluing one cat’s nose to another cat’s tail. Also a similar operation
           on two strings.

           Something “iffy”. See Boolean context.

           In telephony, the temporary electrical circuit between the caller’s and the callee’s
           phone. In networking, the same kind of temporary circuit between a client and a

           As a noun, a piece of syntax made up of smaller pieces. As a transitive verb, to
           create an object using a constructor.

           Any class method, instance, or subroutine that composes, initializes, blesses, and
           returns an object. Sometimes we use the term loosely to mean a composer.

           The surroundings or environment. The context given by the surrounding code determines
           what kind of data a particular expression is expected to return. The three primary
           contexts are list context, scalar, and void context. Scalar context is sometimes
           subdivided into Boolean context, numeric context, string context, and void context.
           There’s also a “don’t care” context (which is dealt with in Camel chapter 2, “Bits and
           Pieces”, if you care).

           The treatment of more than one physical line as a single logical line. Makefile lines
           are continued by putting a backslash before the newline. Mail headers, as defined by
           RFC 822, are continued by putting a space or tab after the newline. In general, lines
           in Perl do not need any form of continuation mark, because whitespace (including
           newlines) is gleefully ignored. Usually.

       core dump
           The corpse of a process, in the form of a file left in the working directory of the
           process, usually as a result of certain kinds of fatal errors.

           The Comprehensive Perl Archive Network. (See the Camel Preface and Camel chapter 19,
           “CPAN” for details.)

       C preprocessor
           The typical C compiler’s first pass, which processes lines beginning with "#" for
           conditional compilation and macro definition, and does various manipulations of the
           program text based on the current definitions. Also known as cpp(1).

           Someone who breaks security on computer systems. A cracker may be a true hacker or
           only a script kiddie.

       currently selected output channel
           The last filehandle that was designated with "select(FILEHANDLE)"; "STDOUT", if no
           filehandle has been selected.

       current package
           The package in which the current statement is compiled. Scan backward in the text of
           your program through the current lexical scope or any enclosing lexical scopes until
           you find a package declaration. That’s your current package name.

       current working directory
           See working directory.

       CV  In academia, a curriculum vitæ, a fancy kind of résumé. In Perl, an internal “code
           value” typedef holding a subroutine. The "CV" type is a subclass of SV.

       dangling statement
           A bare, single statement, without any braces, hanging off an "if" or "while"
           conditional. C allows them. Perl doesn’t.

           A packet of data, such as a UDP message, that (from the viewpoint of the programs
           involved) can be sent independently over the network. (In fact, all packets are sent
           independently at the IP level, but stream protocols such as TCP hide this from your

       data structure
           How your various pieces of data relate to each other and what shape they make when you
           put them all together, as in a rectangular table or a triangular tree.

       data type
           A set of possible values, together with all the operations that know how to deal with
           those values. For example, a numeric data type has a certain set of numbers that you
           can work with, as well as various mathematical operations that you can do on the
           numbers, but would make little sense on, say, a string such as "Kilroy". Strings have
           their own operations, such as concatenation. Compound types made of a number of
           smaller pieces generally have operations to compose and decompose them, and perhaps to
           rearrange them. Objects that model things in the real world often have operations that
           correspond to real activities. For instance, if you model an elevator, your elevator
           object might have an "open_door" method.

       DBM Stands for “Database Management” routines, a set of routines that emulate an
           associative array using disk files. The routines use a dynamic hashing scheme to
           locate any entry with only two disk accesses. DBM files allow a Perl program to keep a
           persistent hash across multiple invocations. You can "tie" your hash variables to
           various DBM implementations.

           An assertion that states something exists and perhaps describes what it’s like,
           without giving any commitment as to how or where you’ll use it. A declaration is like
           the part of your recipe that says, “two cups flour, one large egg, four or five
           tadpoles…” See statement for its opposite. Note that some declarations also function
           as statements. Subroutine declarations also act as definitions if a body is supplied.

           Something that tells your program what sort of variable you’d like. Perl doesn’t
           require you to declare variables, but you can use "my", "our", or "state" to denote
           that you want something other than the default.

           To subtract a value from a variable, as in “decrement $x” (meaning to remove 1 from
           its value) or “decrement $x by 3”.

           A value chosen for you if you don’t supply a value of your own.

           Having a meaning. Perl thinks that some of the things people try to do are devoid of
           meaning; in particular, making use of variables that have never been given a value and
           performing certain operations on data that isn’t there. For example, if you try to
           read data past the end of a file, Perl will hand you back an undefined value. See also
           false and the "defined" entry in Camel chapter 27, “Functions”.

           A character or string that sets bounds to an arbitrarily sized textual object, not to
           be confused with a separator or terminator. “To delimit” really just means “to
           surround” or “to enclose” (like these parentheses are doing).

           A fancy computer science term meaning “to follow a reference to what it points to”.
           The “de” part of it refers to the fact that you’re taking away one level of

       derived class
           A class that defines some of its methods in terms of a more generic class, called a
           base class. Note that classes aren’t classified exclusively into base classes or
           derived classes: a class can function as both a derived class and a base class
           simultaneously, which is kind of classy.

           See file descriptor.

           To deallocate the memory of a referent (first triggering its "DESTROY" method, if it
           has one).

           A special method that is called when an object is thinking about destroying itself. A
           Perl program’s "DESTROY" method doesn’t do the actual destruction; Perl just triggers
           the method in case the class wants to do any associated cleanup.

           A whiz-bang hardware gizmo (like a disk or tape drive or a modem or a joystick or a
           mouse) attached to your computer, which the operating system tries to make look like a
           file (or a bunch of files).  Under Unix, these fake files tend to live in the /dev

           A pod directive. See Camel chapter 23, “Plain Old Documentation”.

           A special file that contains other files. Some operating systems call these “folders”,
           “drawers”, “catalogues”, or “catalogs”.

       directory handle
           A name that represents a particular instance of opening a directory to read it, until
           you close it. See the "opendir" function.

           Some people need this and some people avoid it.  For Perl, it’s an old way to say I/O

           To send something to its correct destination. Often used metaphorically to indicate a
           transfer of programmatic control to a destination selected algorithmically, often by
           lookup in a table of function references or, in the case of object methods, by
           traversing the inheritance tree looking for the most specific definition for the

           A standard, bundled release of a system of software. The default usage implies source
           code is included. If that is not the case, it will be called a “binary-only”

           Some modules live both in the Standard Library and on CPAN. These modules might be
           developed on two tracks as people modify either version. The trend currently is to
           untangle these situations.

           An enchantment, illusion, phantasm, or jugglery. Said when Perl’s magical dwimmer
           effects don’t do what you expect, but rather seem to be the product of arcane
           dweomercraft, sorcery, or wonder working. [From Middle English.]

           DWIM is an acronym for “Do What I Mean”, the principle that something should just do
           what you want it to do without an undue amount of fuss. A bit of code that does
           “dwimming” is a “dwimmer”. Dwimming can require a great deal of behind-the-scenes
           magic, which (if it doesn’t stay properly behind the scenes) is called a dweomer

       dynamic scoping
           Dynamic scoping works over a dynamic scope, making variables visible throughout the
           rest of the block in which they are first used and in any subroutines that are called
           by the rest of the block. Dynamically scoped variables can have their values
           temporarily changed (and implicitly restored later) by a "local" operator.  (Compare
           lexical scoping.) Used more loosely to mean how a subroutine that is in the middle of
           calling another subroutine “contains” that subroutine at runtime.

           Derived from many sources. Some would say too many.

           A basic building block. When you’re talking about an array, it’s one of the items that
           make up the array.

           When something is contained in something else, particularly when that might be
           considered surprising: “I’ve embedded a complete Perl interpreter in my editor!”

       empty subclass test
           The notion that an empty derived class should behave exactly like its base class.

           The veil of abstraction separating the interface from the implementation (whether
           enforced or not), which mandates that all access to an object’s state be through
           methods alone.

           See little-endian and big-endian.

       en passant
           When you change a value as it is being copied. [From French “in passing”, as in the
           exotic pawn-capturing maneuver in chess.]

           The collective set of environment variables your process inherits from its parent.
           Accessed via %ENV.

       environment variable
           A mechanism by which some high-level agent such as a user can pass its preferences
           down to its future offspring (child processes, grandchild processes, great-grandchild
           processes, and so on). Each environment variable is a key/value pair, like one entry
           in a hash.

       EOF End of File. Sometimes used metaphorically as the terminating string of a here

           The error number returned by a syscall when it fails. Perl refers to the error by the
           name $! (or $OS_ERROR if you use the English module).

           See exception or fatal error.

       escape sequence
           See metasymbol.

           A fancy term for an error. See fatal error.

       exception handling
           The way a program responds to an error. The exception-handling mechanism in Perl is
           the "eval" operator.

           To throw away the current process’s program and replace it with another, without
           exiting the process or relinquishing any resources held (apart from the old memory

       executable file
           A file that is specially marked to tell the operating system that it’s okay to run
           this file as a program.  Usually shortened to “executable”.

           To run a program or subroutine. (Has nothing to do with the "kill" built-in, unless
           you’re trying to run a signal handler.)

       execute bit
           The special mark that tells the operating system it can run this program. There are
           actually three execute bits under Unix, and which bit gets used depends on whether you
           own the file singularly, collectively, or not at all.

       exit status
           See status.

           Used as a noun in this case, this refers to a known way to compromise a program to get
           it to do something the author didn’t intend.  Your task is to write unexploitable

           To make symbols from a module available for import by other modules.

           Anything you can legally say in a spot where a value is required. Typically composed
           of literals, variables, operators, functions, and subroutine calls, not necessarily in
           that order.

           A Perl module that also pulls in compiled C or C++ code. More generally, any
           experimental option that can be compiled into Perl, such as multithreading.

           In Perl, any value that would look like "" or "0" if evaluated in a string context.
           Since undefined values evaluate to "", all undefined values are false, but not all
           false values are undefined.

       FAQ Frequently Asked Question (although not necessarily frequently answered, especially if
           the answer appears in the Perl FAQ shipped standard with Perl).

       fatal error
           An uncaught exception, which causes termination of the process after printing a
           message on your standard error stream. Errors that happen inside an "eval" are not
           fatal. Instead, the "eval" terminates after placing the exception message in the $@
           ($EVAL_ERROR) variable.  You can try to provoke a fatal error with the "die" operator
           (known as throwing or raising an exception), but this may be caught by a dynamically
           enclosing "eval". If not caught, the "die" becomes a fatal error.

       feeping creaturism
           A spoonerism of “creeping featurism”, noting the biological urge to add just one more
           feature to a program.

           A single piece of numeric or string data that is part of a longer string, record, or
           line. Variable-width fields are usually split up by separators (so use "split" to
           extract the fields), while fixed-width fields are usually at fixed positions (so use
           "unpack").  Instance variables are also known as “fields”.

           First In, First Out. See also LIFO. Also a nickname for a named pipe.

           A named collection of data, usually stored on disk in a directory in a filesystem.
           Roughly like a document, if you’re into office metaphors. In modern filesystems, you
           can actually give a file more than one name. Some files have special properties, like
           directories and devices.

       file descriptor
           The little number the operating system uses to keep track of which opened file you’re
           talking about.  Perl hides the file descriptor inside a standard I/O stream and then
           attaches the stream to a filehandle.

           A “wildcard” match on filenames. See the "glob" function.

           An identifier (not necessarily related to the real name of a file) that represents a
           particular instance of opening a file, until you close it. If you’re going to open and
           close several different files in succession, it’s fine to open each of them with the
           same filehandle, so you don’t have to write out separate code to process each file.

           One name for a file. This name is listed in a directory. You can use it in an "open"
           to tell the operating system exactly which file you want to open, and associate the
           file with a filehandle, which will carry the subsequent identity of that file in your
           program, until you close it.

           A set of directories and files residing on a partition of the disk. Sometimes known as
           a “partition”. You can change the file’s name or even move a file around from
           directory to directory within a filesystem without actually moving the file itself, at
           least under Unix.

       file test operator
           A built-in unary operator that you use to determine whether something is true about a
           file, such as "–o $filename" to test whether you’re the owner of the file.

           A program designed to take a stream of input and transform it into a stream of output.

           The first PAUSE author to upload a namespace automatically becomes the primary
           maintainer for that namespace. The “first come” permissions distinguish a primary
           maintainer who was assigned that role from one who received it automatically.

           We tend to avoid this term because it means so many things.  It may mean a command-
           line switch that takes no argument itself (such as Perl’s "–n" and "–p" flags) or,
           less frequently, a single-bit indicator (such as the "O_CREAT" and "O_EXCL" flags used
           in "sysopen"). Sometimes informally used to refer to certain regex modifiers.

       floating point
           A method of storing numbers in “scientific notation”, such that the precision of the
           number is independent of its magnitude (the decimal point “floats”). Perl does its
           numeric work with floating-point numbers (sometimes called “floats”) when it can’t get
           away with using integers. Floating-point numbers are mere approximations of real

           The act of emptying a buffer, often before it’s full.

           Far More Than Everything You Ever Wanted To Know. An exhaustive treatise on one narrow
           topic, something of a super-FAQ. See Tom for far more.

           The casemap used in Unicode when comparing or matching without regard to case.
           Comparing lower-, title-, or uppercase are all unreliable due to Unicode’s complex,
           one-to-many case mappings. Foldcase is a lowercase variant (using a partially
           decomposed normalization form for certain codepoints) created specifically to resolve

           To create a child process identical to the parent process at its moment of conception,
           at least until it gets ideas of its own. A thread with protected memory.

       formal arguments
           The generic names by which a subroutine knows its arguments. In many languages, formal
           arguments are always given individual names; in Perl, the formal arguments are just
           the elements of an array. The formal arguments to a Perl program are $ARGV[0],
           $ARGV[1], and so on. Similarly, the formal arguments to a Perl subroutine are $_[0],
           $_[1], and so on. You may give the arguments individual names by assigning the values
           to a "my" list. See also actual arguments.

           A specification of how many spaces and digits and things to put somewhere so that
           whatever you’re printing comes out nice and pretty.

       freely available
           Means you don’t have to pay money to get it, but the copyright on it may still belong
           to someone else (like Larry).

       freely redistributable
           Means you’re not in legal trouble if you give a bootleg copy of it to your friends and
           we find out about it. In fact, we’d rather you gave a copy to all your friends.

           Historically, any software that you give away, particularly if you make the source
           code available as well. Now often called open source software. Recently there has been
           a trend to use the term in contradistinction to open source software, to refer only to
           free software released under the Free Software Foundation’s GPL (General Public
           License), but this is difficult to justify etymologically.

           Mathematically, a mapping of each of a set of input values to a particular output
           value. In computers, refers to a subroutine or operator that returns a value. It may
           or may not have input values (called arguments).

       funny character
           Someone like Larry, or one of his peculiar friends. Also refers to the strange
           prefixes that Perl requires as noun markers on its variables.

       garbage collection
           A misnamed feature—it should be called, “expecting your mother to pick up after you”.
           Strictly speaking, Perl doesn’t do this, but it relies on a reference-counting
           mechanism to keep things tidy. However, we rarely speak strictly and will often refer
           to the reference-counting scheme as a form of garbage collection. (If it’s any
           comfort, when your interpreter exits, a “real” garbage collector runs to make sure
           everything is cleaned up if you’ve been messy with circular references and such.)

       GID Group ID—in Unix, the numeric group ID that the operating system uses to identify you
           and members of your group.

           Strictly, the shell’s "*" character, which will match a “glob” of characters when
           you’re trying to generate a list of filenames.  Loosely, the act of using globs and
           similar symbols to do pattern matching.  See also fileglob and typeglob.

           Something you can see from anywhere, usually used of variables and subroutines that
           are visible everywhere in your program.  In Perl, only certain special variables are
           truly global—most variables (and all subroutines) exist only in the current package.
           Global variables can be declared with "our". See “Global Declarations” in Camel
           chapter 4, “Statements and Declarations”.

       global destruction
           The garbage collection of globals (and the running of any associated object
           destructors) that takes place when a Perl interpreter is being shut down. Global
           destruction should not be confused with the Apocalypse, except perhaps when it should.

       glue language
           A language such as Perl that is good at hooking things together that weren’t intended
           to be hooked together.

           The size of the pieces you’re dealing with, mentally speaking.

           A graphene is an allotrope of carbon arranged in a hexagonal crystal lattice one atom
           thick. A grapheme, or more fully, a grapheme cluster string is a single user-visible
           character, which may in turn be several characters (codepoints) long. For example, a
           carriage return plus a line feed is a single grapheme but two characters, while a “ȫ”
           is a single grapheme but one, two, or even three characters, depending on

           A subpattern whose quantifier wants to match as many things as possible.

           Originally from the old Unix editor command for “Globally search for a Regular
           Expression and Print it”, now used in the general sense of any kind of search,
           especially text searches. Perl has a built-in "grep" function that searches a list for
           elements matching any given criterion, whereas the grep(1) program searches for lines
           matching a regular expression in one or more files.

           A set of users of which you are a member. In some operating systems (like Unix), you
           can give certain file access permissions to other members of your group.

       GV  An internal “glob value” typedef, holding a typeglob. The "GV" type is a subclass of

           Someone who is brilliantly persistent in solving technical problems, whether these
           involve golfing, fighting orcs, or programming.  Hacker is a neutral term, morally
           speaking. Good hackers are not to be confused with evil crackers or clueless script
           kiddies. If you confuse them, we will presume that you are either evil or clueless.

           A subroutine or method that Perl calls when your program needs to respond to some
           internal event, such as a signal, or an encounter with an operator subject to operator
           overloading. See also callback.

       hard reference
           A scalar value containing the actual address of a referent, such that the referent’s
           reference count accounts for it. (Some hard references are held internally, such as
           the implicit reference from one of a typeglob’s variable slots to its corresponding
           referent.) A hard reference is different from a symbolic reference.

           An unordered association of key/value pairs, stored such that you can easily use a
           string key to look up its associated data value. This glossary is like a hash, where
           the word to be defined is the key and the definition is the value. A hash is also
           sometimes septisyllabically called an “associative array”, which is a pretty good
           reason for simply calling it a “hash” instead.

       hash table
           A data structure used internally by Perl for implementing associative arrays (hashes)
           efficiently. See also bucket.

       header file
           A file containing certain required definitions that you must include “ahead” of the
           rest of your program to do certain obscure operations. A C header file has a .h
           extension. Perl doesn’t really have header files, though historically Perl has
           sometimes used translated .h files with a .ph extension. See "require" in Camel
           chapter 27, “Functions”. (Header files have been superseded by the module mechanism.)

       here document
           So called because of a similar construct in shells that pretends that the lines
           following the command are a separate file to be fed to the command, up to some
           terminating string. In Perl, however, it’s just a fancy form of quoting.

           A number in base 16, “hex” for short. The digits for 10 through 15 are customarily
           represented by the letters "a" through "f".  Hexadecimal constants in Perl start with
           "0x". See also the "hex" function in Camel chapter 27, “Functions”.

       home directory
           The directory you are put into when you log in. On a Unix system, the name is often
           placed into $ENV{HOME} or $ENV{LOGDIR} by login, but you can also find it with
           "(get""pwuid($<))[7]". (Some platforms do not have a concept of a home directory.)

           The computer on which a program or other data resides.

           Excessive pride, the sort of thing for which Zeus zaps you.  Also the quality that
           makes you write (and maintain) programs that other people won’t want to say bad things
           about. Hence, the third great virtue of a programmer. See also laziness and

       HV  Short for a “hash value” typedef, which holds Perl’s internal representation of a
           hash. The "HV" type is a subclass of SV.

           A legally formed name for most anything in which a computer program might be
           interested. Many languages (including Perl) allow identifiers to start with an
           alphabetic character, and then contain alphabetics and digits. Perl also allows
           connector punctuation like the underscore character wherever it allows alphabetics.
           (Perl also has more complicated names, like qualified names.)

           The anger you feel when the computer is being lazy.  This makes you write programs
           that don’t just react to your needs, but actually anticipate them. Or at least that
           pretend to. Hence, the second great virtue of a programmer. See also laziness and

           How a piece of code actually goes about doing its job. Users of the code should not
           count on implementation details staying the same unless they are part of the published

           To gain access to symbols that are exported from another module. See "use" in Camel
           chapter 27, “Functions”.

           To increase the value of something by 1 (or by some other number, if so specified).

           In olden days, the act of looking up a key in an actual index (such as a phone book).
           But now it's merely the act of using any kind of key or position to find the
           corresponding value, even if no index is involved. Things have degenerated to the
           point that Perl’s "index" function merely locates the position (index) of one string
           in another.

       indirect filehandle
           An expression that evaluates to something that can be used as a filehandle: a string
           (filehandle name), a typeglob, a typeglob reference, or a low-level IO object.

           If something in a program isn’t the value you’re looking for but indicates where the
           value is, that’s indirection. This can be done with either symbolic references or

       indirect object
           In English grammar, a short noun phrase between a verb and its direct object
           indicating the beneficiary or recipient of the action. In Perl, "print STDOUT
           "$foo\n";" can be understood as “verb indirect-object object”, where "STDOUT" is the
           recipient of the "print" action, and "$foo" is the object being printed.  Similarly,
           when invoking a method, you might place the invocant in the dative slot between the
           method and its arguments:

               $gollum = new Pathetic::Creature "Sméagol";
               give $gollum "Fisssssh!";
               give $gollum "Precious!";

       indirect object slot
           The syntactic position falling between a method call and its arguments when using the
           indirect object invocation syntax. (The slot is distinguished by the absence of a
           comma between it and the next argument.) "STDERR" is in the indirect object slot here:

               print STDERR "Awake! Awake! Fear, Fire, Foes! Awake!\n";

           An operator that comes in between its operands, such as multiplication in "24 * 7".

           What you get from your ancestors, genetically or otherwise. If you happen to be a
           class, your ancestors are called base classes and your descendants are called derived
           classes. See single inheritance and multiple inheritance.

           Short for “an instance of a class”, meaning an object of that class.

       instance data
           See instance variable.

       instance method
           A method of an object, as opposed to a class method.

           A method whose invocant is an object, not a package name. Every object of a class
           shares all the methods of that class, so an instance method applies to all instances
           of the class, rather than applying to a particular instance. Also see class method.

       instance variable
           An attribute of an object; data stored with the particular object rather than with the
           class as a whole.

           A number with no fractional (decimal) part. A counting number, like 1, 2, 3, and so
           on, but including 0 and the negatives.

           The services a piece of code promises to provide forever, in contrast to its
           implementation, which it should feel free to change whenever it likes.

           The insertion of a scalar or list value somewhere in the middle of another value, such
           that it appears to have been there all along. In Perl, variable interpolation happens
           in double-quoted strings and patterns, and list interpolation occurs when constructing
           the list of values to pass to a list operator or other such construct that takes a

           Strictly speaking, a program that reads a second program and does what the second
           program says directly without turning the program into a different form first, which
           is what compilers do. Perl is not an interpreter by this definition, because it
           contains a kind of compiler that takes a program and turns it into a more executable
           form (syntax trees) within the perl process itself, which the Perl runtime system then

           The agent on whose behalf a method is invoked. In a class method, the invocant is a
           package name. In an instance method, the invocant is an object reference.

           The act of calling up a deity, daemon, program, method, subroutine, or function to get
           it to do what you think it’s supposed to do.  We usually “call” subroutines but
           “invoke” methods, since it sounds cooler.

       I/O Input from, or output to, a file or device.

       IO  An internal I/O object. Can also mean indirect object.

       I/O layer
           One of the filters between the data and what you get as input or what you end up with
           as output.

       IPA India Pale Ale. Also the International Phonetic Alphabet, the standard alphabet used
           for phonetic notation worldwide. Draws heavily on Unicode, including many combining

       IP  Internet Protocol, or Intellectual Property.

       IPC Interprocess Communication.

           A relationship between two objects in which one object is considered to be a more
           specific version of the other, generic object: “A camel is a mammal.” Since the
           generic object really only exists in a Platonic sense, we usually add a little
           abstraction to the notion of objects and think of the relationship as being between a
           generic base class and a specific derived class. Oddly enough, Platonic classes don’t
           always have Platonic relationships—see inheritance.

           Doing something repeatedly.

           A special programming gizmo that keeps track of where you are in something that you’re
           trying to iterate over. The "foreach" loop in Perl contains an iterator; so does a
           hash, allowing you to "each" through it.

       IV  The integer four, not to be confused with six, Tom’s favorite editor. IV also means an
           internal Integer Value of the type a scalar can hold, not to be confused with an NV.

           “Just Another Perl Hacker”, a clever but cryptic bit of Perl code that, when executed,
           evaluates to that string. Often used to illustrate a particular Perl feature, and
           something of an ongoing Obfuscated Perl Contest seen in USENET signatures.

       key The string index to a hash, used to look up the value associated with that key.

           See reserved words.

           A name you give to a statement so that you can talk about that statement elsewhere in
           the program.

           The quality that makes you go to great effort to reduce overall energy expenditure. It
           makes you write labor-saving programs that other people will find useful, and then
           document what you wrote so you don’t have to answer so many questions about it. Hence,
           the first great virtue of a programmer. Also hence, this book. See also impatience and

       leftmost longest
           The preference of the regular expression engine to match the leftmost occurrence of a
           pattern, then given a position at which a match will occur, the preference for the
           longest match (presuming the use of a greedy quantifier). See Camel chapter 5,
           “Pattern Matching” for much more on this subject.

       left shift
           A bit shift that multiplies the number by some power of 2.

           Fancy term for a token.

           Fancy term for a tokener.

       lexical analysis
           Fancy term for tokenizing.

       lexical scoping
           Looking at your Oxford English Dictionary through a microscope. (Also known as static
           scoping, because dictionaries don’t change very fast.) Similarly, looking at variables
           stored in a private dictionary (namespace) for each scope, which are visible only from
           their point of declaration down to the end of the lexical scope in which they are
           declared. —Syn.  static scoping. —Ant. dynamic scoping.

       lexical variable
           A variable subject to lexical scoping, declared by "my". Often just called a
           “lexical”. (The "our" declaration declares a lexically scoped name for a global
           variable, which is not itself a lexical variable.)

           Generally, a collection of procedures. In ancient days, referred to a collection of
           subroutines in a .pl file. In modern times, refers more often to the entire collection
           of Perl modules on your system.

           Last In, First Out. See also FIFO. A LIFO is usually called a stack.

           In Unix, a sequence of zero or more nonnewline characters terminated with a newline
           character. On non-Unix machines, this is emulated by the C library even if the
           underlying operating system has different ideas.

           A grapheme consisting of either a carriage return followed by a line feed or any
           character with the Unicode Vertical Space character property.

       line buffering
           Used by a standard I/O output stream that flushes its buffer after every newline. Many
           standard I/O libraries automatically set up line buffering on output that is going to
           the terminal.

       line number
           The number of lines read previous to this one, plus 1. Perl keeps a separate line
           number for each source or input file it opens. The current source file’s line number
           is represented by "__LINE__". The current input line number (for the file that was
           most recently read via "<FH>") is represented by the $. ($INPUT_LINE_NUMBER) variable.
           Many error messages report both values, if available.

           Used as a noun, a name in a directory that represents a file. A given file can have
           multiple links to it. It’s like having the same phone number listed in the phone
           directory under different names. As a verb, to resolve a partially compiled file’s
           unresolved symbols into a (nearly) executable image. Linking can generally be static
           or dynamic, which has nothing to do with static or dynamic scoping.

           A syntactic construct representing a comma- separated list of expressions, evaluated
           to produce a list value.  Each expression in a "LIST" is evaluated in list context and
           interpolated into the list value.

           An ordered set of scalar values.

       list context
           The situation in which an expression is expected by its surroundings (the code calling
           it) to return a list of values rather than a single value. Functions that want a
           "LIST" of arguments tell those arguments that they should produce a list value. See
           also context.

       list operator
           An operator that does something with a list of values, such as "join" or "grep".
           Usually used for named built-in operators (such as "print", "unlink", and "system")
           that do not require parentheses around their argument list.

       list value
           An unnamed list of temporary scalar values that may be passed around within a program
           from any list-generating function to any function or construct that provides a list

           A token in a programming language, such as a number or string, that gives you an
           actual value instead of merely representing possible values as a variable does.

           From Swift: someone who eats eggs little end first. Also used of computers that store
           the least significant byte of a word at a lower byte address than the most significant
           byte. Often considered superior to big-endian machines. See also big-endian.

           Not meaning the same thing everywhere. A global variable in Perl can be localized
           inside a dynamic scope via the "local" operator.

       logical operator
           Symbols representing the concepts “and”, “or”, “xor”, and “not”.

           An assertion that peeks at the string to the right of the current match location.

           An assertion that peeks at the string to the left of the current match location.

           A construct that performs something repeatedly, like a roller coaster.

       loop control statement
           Any statement within the body of a loop that can make a loop prematurely stop looping
           or skip an iteration. Generally, you shouldn’t try this on roller coasters.

       loop label
           A kind of key or name attached to a loop (or roller coaster) so that loop control
           statements can talk about which loop they want to control.

           In Unicode, not just characters with the General Category of Lowercase Letter, but any
           character with the Lowercase property, including Modifier Letters, Letter Numbers,
           some Other Symbols, and one Combining Mark.

           Able to serve as an lvalue.

           Term used by language lawyers for a storage location you can assign a new value to,
           such as a variable or an element of an array. The “l” is short for “left”, as in the
           left side of an assignment, a typical place for lvalues. An lvaluable function or
           expression is one to which a value may be assigned, as in "pos($x) = 10".

       lvalue modifier
           An adjectival pseudofunction that warps the meaning of an lvalue in some declarative
           fashion. Currently there are three lvalue modifiers: "my", "our", and "local".

           Technically speaking, any extra semantics attached to a variable such as $!, $0, %ENV,
           or %SIG, or to any tied variable.  Magical things happen when you diddle those

       magical increment
           An increment operator that knows how to bump up ASCII alphabetics as well as numbers.

       magical variables
           Special variables that have side effects when you access them or assign to them. For
           example, in Perl, changing elements of the %ENV array also changes the corresponding
           environment variables that subprocesses will use. Reading the $!  variable gives you
           the current system error number or message.

           A file that controls the compilation of a program. Perl programs don’t usually need a
           Makefile because the Perl compiler has plenty of self-control.

       man The Unix program that displays online documentation (manual pages) for you.

           A “page” from the manuals, typically accessed via the man(1) command. A manpage
           contains a SYNOPSIS, a DESCRIPTION, a list of BUGS, and so on, and is typically longer
           than a page. There are manpages documenting commands, syscalls, library functions,
           devices, protocols, files, and such. In this book, we call any piece of standard Perl
           documentation (like perlop or perldelta) a manpage, no matter what format it’s
           installed in on your system.

           See pattern matching.

       member data
           See instance variable.

           This always means your main memory, not your disk.  Clouding the issue is the fact
           that your machine may implement virtual memory; that is, it will pretend that it has
           more memory than it really does, and it’ll use disk space to hold inactive bits. This
           can make it seem like you have a little more memory than you really do, but it’s not a
           substitute for real memory. The best thing that can be said about virtual memory is
           that it lets your performance degrade gradually rather than suddenly when you run out
           of real memory. But your program can die when you run out of virtual memory, too—if
           you haven’t thrashed your disk to death first.

           A character that is not supposed to be treated normally. Which characters are to be
           treated specially as metacharacters varies greatly from context to context. Your shell
           will have certain metacharacters, double-quoted Perl strings have other
           metacharacters, and regular expression patterns have all the double-quote
           metacharacters plus some extra ones of their own.

           Something we’d call a metacharacter except that it’s a sequence of more than one
           character.  Generally, the first character in the sequence must be a true
           metacharacter to get the other characters in the metasymbol to misbehave along with

           A kind of action that an object can take if you tell it to. See Camel chapter 12,

       method resolution order
           The path Perl takes through @INC. By default, this is a double depth first search,
           once looking for defined methods and once for "AUTOLOAD". However, Perl lets you
           configure this with "mro".

           A CPAN mirror that includes just the latest versions for each distribution, probably
           created with "CPAN::Mini". See Camel chapter 19, “CPAN”.

           The belief that “small is beautiful”. Paradoxically, if you say something in a small
           language, it turns out big, and if you say it in a big language, it turns out small.
           Go figure.

           In the context of the stat(2) syscall, refers to the field holding the permission bits
           and the type of the file.

           See statement modifier, regular expression, and lvalue, not necessarily in that order.

           A file that defines a package of (almost) the same name, which can either export
           symbols or function as an object class.  (A module’s main .pm file may also load in
           other files in support of the module.) See the "use" built-in.

           An integer divisor when you’re interested in the remainder instead of the quotient.

           When you speak one language and the computer thinks you’re speaking another. You’ll
           see odd translations when you send UTF‑8, for instance, but the computer thinks you
           sent Latin-1, showing all sorts of weird characters instead. The term is written
           「文字化け」in Japanese and means “character rot”, an apt description. Pronounced
           ["modʑibake"] in standard IPA phonetics, or approximately “moh-jee-bah-keh”.

           Short for one member of Perl mongers, a purveyor of Perl.

           A temporary value scheduled to die when the current statement finishes.

       mro See method resolution order.

       multidimensional array
           An array with multiple subscripts for finding a single element. Perl implements these
           using references—see Camel chapter 9, “Data Structures”.

       multiple inheritance
           The features you got from your mother and father, mixed together unpredictably. (See
           also inheritance and single inheritance.) In computer languages (including Perl), it
           is the notion that a given class may have multiple direct ancestors or base classes.

       named pipe
           A pipe with a name embedded in the filesystem so that it can be accessed by two
           unrelated processes.

           A domain of names. You needn’t worry about whether the names in one such domain have
           been used in another. See package.

       NaN Not a number. The value Perl uses for certain invalid or inexpressible floating-point

       network address
           The most important attribute of a socket, like your telephone’s telephone number.
           Typically an IP address. See also port.

           A single character that represents the end of a line, with the ASCII value of 012
           octal under Unix (but 015 on a Mac), and represented by "\n" in Perl strings. For
           Windows machines writing text files, and for certain physical devices like terminals,
           the single newline gets automatically translated by your C library into a line feed
           and a carriage return, but normally, no translation is done.

       NFS Network File System, which allows you to mount a remote filesystem as if it were

           Converting a text string into an alternate but equivalent canonical (or compatible)
           representation that can then be compared for equivalence. Unicode recognizes four
           different normalization forms: NFD, NFC, NFKD, and NFKC.

       null character
           A character with the numeric value of zero. It’s used by C to terminate strings, but
           Perl allows strings to contain a null.

       null list
           A list value with zero elements, represented in Perl by "()".

       null string
           A string containing no characters, not to be confused with a string containing a null
           character, which has a positive length and is true.

       numeric context
           The situation in which an expression is expected by its surroundings (the code calling
           it) to return a number.  See also context and string context.

           (Sometimes spelled nummification and nummify.) Perl lingo for implicit conversion into
           a number; the related verb is numify.  Numification is intended to rhyme with
           mummification, and numify with mummify. It is unrelated to English numen, numina,
           numinous. We originally forgot the extra m a long time ago, and some people got used
           to our funny spelling, and so just as with "HTTP_REFERER"’s own missing letter, our
           weird spelling has stuck around.

       NV  Short for Nevada, no part of which will ever be confused with civilization. NV also
           means an internal floating- point Numeric Value of the type a scalar can hold, not to
           be confused with an IV.

           Half a byte, equivalent to one hexadecimal digit, and worth four bits.

           An instance of a class. Something that “knows” what user-defined type (class) it is,
           and what it can do because of what class it is. Your program can request an object to
           do things, but the object gets to decide whether it wants to do them or not. Some
           objects are more accommodating than others.

           A number in base 8. Only the digits 0 through 7 are allowed. Octal constants in Perl
           start with 0, as in 013. See also the "oct" function.

           How many things you have to skip over when moving from the beginning of a string or
           array to a specific position within it. Thus, the minimum offset is zero, not one,
           because you don’t skip anything to get to the first item.

           An entire computer program crammed into one line of text.

       open source software
           Programs for which the source code is freely available and freely redistributable,
           with no commercial strings attached.  For a more detailed definition, see

           An expression that yields a value that an operator operates on. See also precedence.

       operating system
           A special program that runs on the bare machine and hides the gory details of managing
           processes and devices.  Usually used in a looser sense to indicate a particular
           culture of programming. The loose sense can be used at varying levels of specificity.
           At one extreme, you might say that all versions of Unix and Unix-lookalikes are the
           same operating system (upsetting many people, especially lawyers and other advocates).
           At the other extreme, you could say this particular version of this particular
           vendor’s operating system is different from any other version of this or any other
           vendor’s operating system. Perl is much more portable across operating systems than
           many other languages. See also architecture and platform.

           A gizmo that transforms some number of input values to some number of output values,
           often built into a language with a special syntax or symbol. A given operator may have
           specific expectations about what types of data you give as its arguments (operands)
           and what type of data you want back from it.

       operator overloading
           A kind of overloading that you can do on built-in operators to make them work on
           objects as if the objects were ordinary scalar values, but with the actual semantics
           supplied by the object class. This is set up with the overload pragma—see Camel
           chapter 13, “Overloading”.

           See either switches or regular expression modifiers.

           An abstract character’s integer value. Same thing as codepoint.

           Giving additional meanings to a symbol or construct.  Actually, all languages do
           overloading to one extent or another, since people are good at figuring out things
           from context.

           Hiding or invalidating some other definition of the same name. (Not to be confused
           with overloading, which adds definitions that must be disambiguated some other way.)
           To confuse the issue further, we use the word with two overloaded definitions: to
           describe how you can define your own subroutine to hide a built-in function of the
           same name (see the section “Overriding Built-in Functions” in Camel chapter 11,
           “Modules”), and to describe how you can define a replacement method in a derived class
           to hide a base class’s method of the same name (see Camel chapter 12, “Objects”).

           The one user (apart from the superuser) who has absolute control over a file. A file
           may also have a group of users who may exercise joint ownership if the real owner
           permits it. See permission bits.

           A namespace for global variables, subroutines, and the like, such that they can be
           kept separate from like-named symbols in other namespaces. In a sense, only the
           package is global, since the symbols in the package’s symbol table are only accessible
           from code compiled outside the package by naming the package. But in another sense,
           all package symbols are also globals—they’re just well-organized globals.

       pad Short for scratchpad.

           See argument.

       parent class
           See base class.

       parse tree
           See syntax tree.

           The subtle but sometimes brutal art of attempting to turn your possibly malformed
           program into a valid syntax tree.

           To fix by applying one, as it were. In the realm of hackerdom, a listing of the
           differences between two versions of a program as might be applied by the patch(1)
           program when you want to fix a bug or upgrade your old version.

           The list of directories the system searches to find a program you want to execute.
           The list is stored as one of your environment variables, accessible in Perl as

           A fully qualified filename such as /usr/bin/perl. Sometimes confused with "PATH".

           A template used in pattern matching.

       pattern matching
           Taking a pattern, usually a regular expression, and trying the pattern various ways on
           a string to see whether there’s any way to make it fit. Often used to pick interesting
           tidbits out of a file.

           The Perl Authors Upload SErver (<>), the gateway for modules on
           their way to CPAN.

       Perl mongers
           A Perl user group, taking the form of its name from the New York Perl mongers, the
           first Perl user group. Find one near you at <>.

       permission bits
           Bits that the owner of a file sets or unsets to allow or disallow access to other
           people. These flag bits are part of the mode word returned by the "stat" built-in when
           you ask about a file. On Unix systems, you can check the ls(1) manpage for more

           What you get when you do "Perl++" twice. Doing it only once will curl your hair. You
           have to increment it eight times to shampoo your hair. Lather, rinse, iterate.

           A direct connection that carries the output of one process to the input of another
           without an intermediate temporary file.  Once the pipe is set up, the two processes in
           question can read and write as if they were talking to a normal file, with some

           A series of processes all in a row, linked by pipes, where each passes its output
           stream to the next.

           The entire hardware and software context in which a program runs. A program written in
           a platform-dependent language might break if you change any of the following: machine,
           operating system, libraries, compiler, or system configuration. The perl interpreter
           has to be compiled differently for each platform because it is implemented in C, but
           programs written in the Perl language are largely platform independent.

       pod The markup used to embed documentation into your Perl code. Pod stands for “Plain old
           documentation”. See Camel chapter 23, “Plain Old Documentation”.

       pod command
           A sequence, such as "=head1", that denotes the start of a pod section.

           A variable in a language like C that contains the exact memory location of some other
           item. Perl handles pointers internally so you don’t have to worry about them. Instead,
           you just use symbolic pointers in the form of keys and variable names, or hard
           references, which aren’t pointers (but act like pointers and do in fact contain

           The notion that you can tell an object to do something generic, and the object will
           interpret the command in different ways depending on its type. [< Greek πολυ- + μορϕή,
           many forms.]

           The part of the address of a TCP or UDP socket that directs packets to the correct
           process after finding the right machine, something like the phone extension you give
           when you reach the company operator. Also the result of converting code to run on a
           different platform than originally intended, or the verb denoting this conversion.

           Once upon a time, C code compilable under both BSD and SysV. In general, code that can
           be easily converted to run on another platform, where “easily” can be defined however
           you like, and usually is.  Anything may be considered portable if you try hard enough,
           such as a mobile home or London Bridge.

           Someone who “carries” software from one platform to another.  Porting programs written
           in platform-dependent languages such as C can be difficult work, but porting programs
           like Perl is very much worth the agony.

           Said of quantifiers and groups in patterns that refuse to give up anything once
           they’ve gotten their mitts on it. Catchier and easier to say than the even more formal

           The Portable Operating System Interface specification.

           An operator that follows its operand, as in "$x++".

       pp  An internal shorthand for a “push- pop” code; that is, C code implementing Perl’s
           stack machine.

           A standard module whose practical hints and suggestions are received (and possibly
           ignored) at compile time. Pragmas are named in all lowercase.

           The rules of conduct that, in the absence of other guidance, determine what should
           happen first.  For example, in the absence of parentheses, you always do
           multiplication before addition.

           An operator that precedes its operand, as in "++$x".

           What some helper process did to transform the incoming data into a form more suitable
           for the current process. Often done with an incoming pipe. See also C preprocessor.

       primary maintainer
           The author that PAUSE allows to assign co-maintainer permissions to a namespace. A
           primary maintainer can give up this distinction by assigning it to another PAUSE
           author. See Camel chapter 19, “CPAN”.

           A subroutine.

           An instance of a running program. Under multitasking systems like Unix, two or more
           separate processes could be running the same program independently at the same time—in
           fact, the "fork" function is designed to bring about this happy state of affairs.
           Under other operating systems, processes are sometimes called “threads”, “tasks”, or
           “jobs”, often with slight nuances in meaning.

           See script.

       program generator
           A system that algorithmically writes code for you in a high-level language. See also
           code generator.

       progressive matching
           Pattern matching  matching>that picks up where it left off before.

           See either instance variable or character property.

           In networking, an agreed-upon way of sending messages back and forth so that neither
           correspondent will get too confused.

           An optional part of a subroutine declaration telling the Perl compiler how many and
           what flavor of arguments may be passed as actual arguments, so you can write
           subroutine calls that parse much like built-in functions. (Or don’t parse, as the case
           may be.)

           A construct that sometimes looks like a function but really isn’t. Usually reserved
           for lvalue modifiers like "my", for context modifiers like "scalar", and for the pick-
           your-own-quotes constructs, "q//", "qq//", "qx//", "qw//", "qr//", "m//", "s///",
           "y///", and "tr///".

           Formerly, a reference to an array whose initial element happens to hold a reference to
           a hash. You used to be able to treat a pseudohash reference as either an array
           reference or a hash reference. Pseduohashes are no longer supported.

           An operator X"that looks something like a literal, such as the output-grabbing
           operator, <literal moreinfo="none""`>"command""`".

       public domain
           Something not owned by anybody. Perl is copyrighted and is thus not in the public
           domain—it’s just freely available and freely redistributable.

           A notional “baton” handed around the Perl community indicating who is the lead
           integrator in some arena of development.

           A pumpkin holder, the person in charge of pumping the pump, or at least priming it.
           Must be willing to play the part of the Great Pumpkin now and then.

       PV  A “pointer value”, which is Perl Internals Talk for a "char*".

           Possessing a complete name. The symbol $Ent::moot is qualified; $moot is unqualified.
           A fully qualified filename is specified from the top-level directory.

           A component of a regular expression specifying how many times the foregoing atom may

       race condition
           A race condition exists when the result of several interrelated events depends on the
           ordering of those events, but that order cannot be guaranteed due to nondeterministic
           timing effects. If two or more programs, or parts of the same program, try to go
           through the same series of events, one might interrupt the work of the other. This is
           a good way to find an exploit.

           With respect to files, one that has the proper permission bit set to let you access
           the file. With respect to computer programs, one that’s written well enough that
           someone has a chance of figuring out what it’s trying to do.

           The last rites performed by a parent process on behalf of a deceased child process so
           that it doesn’t remain a zombie.  See the "wait" and "waitpid" function calls.

           A set of related data values in a file or stream, often associated with a unique key
           field. In Unix, often commensurate with a line, or a blank-line–terminated set of
           lines (a “paragraph”).  Each line of the /etc/passwd file is a record, keyed on login
           name, containing information about that user.

           The art of defining something (at least partly) in terms of itself, which is a naughty
           no-no in dictionaries but often works out okay in computer programs if you’re careful
           not to recurse forever (which is like an infinite loop with more spectacular failure

           Where you look to find a pointer to information somewhere else. (See indirection.)
           References come in two flavors: symbolic references and hard references.

           Whatever a reference refers to, which may or may not have a name. Common types of
           referents include scalars, arrays, hashes, and subroutines.

           See regular expression.

       regular expression
           A single entity with various interpretations, like an elephant. To a computer
           scientist, it’s a grammar for a little language in which some strings are legal and
           others aren’t. To normal people, it’s a pattern you can use to find what you’re
           looking for when it varies from case to case. Perl’s regular expressions are far from
           regular in the theoretical sense, but in regular use they work quite well.  Here’s a
           regular expression: "/Oh s.*t./". This will match strings like “"Oh say can you see by
           the dawn's early light"” and “"Oh sit!"”. See Camel chapter 5, “Pattern Matching”.

       regular expression modifier
           An option on a pattern or substitution, such as "/i" to render the pattern case-

       regular file
           A file that’s not a directory, a device, a named pipe or socket, or a symbolic link.
           Perl uses the "–f" file test operator to identify regular files. Sometimes called a
           “plain” file.

       relational operator
           An operator that says whether a particular ordering relationship is true about a pair
           of operands. Perl has both numeric and string relational operators. See collating

       reserved words
           A word with a specific, built-in meaning to a compiler, such as "if" or "delete". In
           many languages (not Perl), it’s illegal to use reserved words to name anything else.
           (Which is why they’re reserved, after all.) In Perl, you just can’t use them to name
           labels or filehandles. Also called “keywords”.

       return value
           The value produced by a subroutine or expression when evaluated. In Perl, a return
           value may be either a list or a scalar.

       RFC Request For Comment, which despite the timid connotations is the name of a series of
           important standards documents.

       right shift
           A bit shift that divides a number by some power of 2.

           A name for a concrete set of behaviors. A role is a way to add behavior to a class
           without inheritance.

           The superuser ("UID" == 0). Also the top-level directory of the filesystem.

           What you are told when someone thinks you should Read The Fine Manual.

       run phase
           Any time after Perl starts running your main program.  See also compile phase. Run
           phase is mostly spent in runtime but may also be spent in compile time when "require",
           "do" "FILE", or "eval" "STRING" operators are executed, or when a substitution uses
           the "/ee" modifier.

           The time when Perl is actually doing what your code says to do, as opposed to the
           earlier period of time when it was trying to figure out whether what you said made any
           sense whatsoever, which is compile time.

       runtime pattern
           A pattern that contains one or more variables to be interpolated before parsing the
           pattern as a regular expression, and that therefore cannot be analyzed at compile
           time, but must be reanalyzed each time the pattern match operator is evaluated.
           Runtime patterns are useful but expensive.

       RV  A recreational vehicle, not to be confused with vehicular recreation. RV also means an
           internal Reference Value of the type a scalar can hold. See also IV and NV if you’re
           not confused yet.

           A value that you might find on the right side of an assignment. See also lvalue.

           A walled off area that’s not supposed to affect beyond its walls. You let kids play in
           the sandbox instead of running in the road.  See Camel chapter 20, “Security”.

           A simple, singular value; a number, string, or reference.

       scalar context
           The situation in which an expression is expected by its surroundings (the code calling
           it) to return a single value rather than a list of values. See also context and list
           context. A scalar context sometimes imposes additional constraints on the return
           value—see string context and numeric context. Sometimes we talk about a Boolean
           context inside conditionals, but this imposes no additional constraints, since any
           scalar value, whether numeric or string, is already true or false.

       scalar literal
           A number or quoted string—an actual value in the text of your program, as opposed to a

       scalar value
           A value that happens to be a scalar as opposed to a list.

       scalar variable
           A variable prefixed with "$" that holds a single value.

           From how far away you can see a variable, looking through one. Perl has two visibility
           mechanisms. It does dynamic scoping of "local" variables, meaning that the rest of the
           block, and any subroutines that are called by the rest of the block, can see the
           variables that are local to the block. Perl does lexical scoping of "my" variables,
           meaning that the rest of the block can see the variable, but other subroutines called
           by the block cannot see the variable.

           The area in which a particular invocation of a particular file or subroutine keeps
           some of its temporary values, including any lexically scoped variables.

           A text file that is a program intended to be executed directly rather than compiled to
           another form of file before execution.

           Also, in the context of Unicode, a writing system for a particular language or group
           of languages, such as Greek, Bengali, or Tengwar.

       script kiddie
           A cracker who is not a hacker but knows just enough to run canned scripts. A cargo-
           cult programmer.

       sed A venerable Stream EDitor from which Perl derives some of its ideas.

           A fancy kind of interlock that prevents multiple threads or processes from using up
           the same resources simultaneously.

           A character or string that keeps two surrounding strings from being confused with each
           other. The "split" function works on separators. Not to be confused with delimiters or
           terminators. The “or” in the previous sentence separated the two alternatives.

           Putting a fancy data structure into linear order so that it can be stored as a string
           in a disk file or database, or sent through a pipe. Also called marshalling.

           In networking, a process that either advertises a service or just hangs around at a
           known location and waits for clients who need service to get in touch with it.

           Something you do for someone else to make them happy, like giving them the time of day
           (or of their life). On some machines, well-known services are listed by the
           "getservent" function.

           Same as setuid, only having to do with giving away group privileges.

           Said of a program that runs with the privileges of its owner rather than (as is
           usually the case) the privileges of whoever is running it. Also describes the bit in
           the mode word (permission bits) that controls the feature. This bit must be explicitly
           set by the owner to enable this feature, and the program must be carefully written not
           to give away more privileges than it ought to.

       shared memory
           A piece of memory accessible by two different processes who otherwise would not see
           each other’s memory.

           Irish for the whole McGillicuddy. In Perl culture, a portmanteau of “sharp” and
           “bang”, meaning the "#!" sequence that tells the system where to find the interpreter.

           A command-line interpreter. The program that interactively gives you a prompt, accepts
           one or more lines of input, and executes the programs you mentioned, feeding each of
           them their proper arguments and input data. Shells can also execute scripts containing
           such commands. Under Unix, typical shells include the Bourne shell (/bin/sh), the C
           shell (/bin/csh), and the Korn shell (/bin/ksh).  Perl is not strictly a shell because
           it’s not interactive (although Perl programs can be interactive).

       side effects
           Something extra that happens when you evaluate an expression. Nowadays it can refer to
           almost anything. For example, evaluating a simple assignment statement typically has
           the “side effect” of assigning a value to a variable. (And you thought assigning the
           value was your primary intent in the first place!) Likewise, assigning a value to the
           special variable $| ($AUTOFLUSH) has the side effect of forcing a flush after every
           "write" or "print" on the currently selected filehandle.

           A glyph used in magic. Or, for Perl, the symbol in front of a variable name, such as
           "$", "@", and "%".

           A bolt out of the blue; that is, an event triggered by the operating system, probably
           when you’re least expecting it.

       signal handler
           A subroutine that, instead of being content to be called in the normal fashion, sits
           around waiting for a bolt out of the blue before it will deign to execute. Under Perl,
           bolts out of the blue are called signals, and you send them with the "kill" built-in.
           See the %SIG hash in Camel chapter 25, “Special Names” and the section “Signals” in
           Camel chapter 15, “Interprocess Communication”.

       single inheritance
           The features you got from your mother, if she told you that you don’t have a father.
           (See also inheritance and multiple inheritance.) In computer languages, the idea that
           classes reproduce asexually so that a given class can only have one direct ancestor or
           base class. Perl supplies no such restriction, though you may certainly program Perl
           that way if you like.

           A selection of any number of elements from a list, array, or hash.

           To read an entire file into a string in one operation.

           An endpoint for network communication among multiple processes that works much like a
           telephone or a post office box. The most important thing about a socket is its network
           address (like a phone number). Different kinds of sockets have different kinds of
           addresses—some look like filenames, and some don’t.

       soft reference
           See symbolic reference.

       source filter
           A special kind of module that does preprocessing on your script just before it gets to
           the tokener.

           A device you can put things on the top of, and later take them back off in the
           opposite order in which you put them on. See LIFO.

           Included in the official Perl distribution, as in a standard module, a standard tool,
           or a standard Perl manpage.

       standard error
           The default output stream for nasty remarks that don’t belong in standard output.
           Represented within a Perl program by the output>  filehandle "STDERR". You can use
           this stream explicitly, but the "die" and "warn" built-ins write to your standard
           error stream automatically (unless trapped or otherwise intercepted).

       standard input
           The default input stream for your program, which if possible shouldn’t care where its
           data is coming from. Represented within a Perl program by the filehandle "STDIN".

       standard I/O
           A standard C library for doing buffered input and output to the operating system. (The
           “standard” of standard I/O is at most marginally related to the “standard” of standard
           input and output.)  In general, Perl relies on whatever implementation of standard I/O
           a given operating system supplies, so the buffering characteristics of a Perl program
           on one machine may not exactly match those on another machine.  Normally this only
           influences efficiency, not semantics. If your standard I/O package is doing block
           buffering and you want it to flush the buffer more often, just set the $| variable to
           a true value.

       Standard Library
           Everything that comes with the official perl distribution. Some vendor versions of
           perl change their distributions, leaving out some parts or including extras. See also

       standard output
           The default output stream for your program, which if possible shouldn’t care where its
           data is going. Represented within a Perl program by the filehandle "STDOUT".

           A command to the computer about what to do next, like a step in a recipe: “Add
           marmalade to batter and mix until mixed.” A statement is distinguished from a
           declaration, which doesn’t tell the computer to do anything, but just to learn

       statement modifier
           A conditional or loop that you put after the statement instead of before, if you know
           what we mean.

           Varying slowly compared to something else. (Unfortunately, everything is relatively
           stable compared to something else, except for certain elementary particles, and we’re
           not so sure about them.) In computers, where things are supposed to vary rapidly,
           “static” has a derogatory connotation, indicating a slightly dysfunctional variable,
           subroutine, or method. In Perl culture, the word is politely avoided.

           If you’re a C or C++ programmer, you might be looking for Perl’s "state" keyword.

       static method
           No such thing. See class method.

       static scoping
           No such thing. See lexical scoping.

       static variable
           No such thing. Just use a lexical variable in a scope larger than your subroutine, or
           declare it with "state" instead of with "my".

       stat structure
           A special internal spot in which Perl keeps the information about the last file on
           which you requested information.

           The value returned to the parent process when one of its child processes dies. This
           value is placed in the special variable $?. Its upper eight bits are the exit status
           of the defunct process, and its lower eight bits identify the signal (if any) that the
           process died from. On Unix systems, this status value is the same as the status word
           returned by wait(2). See "system" in Camel chapter 27, “Functions”.

           See standard error.

           See standard input.

           See standard I/O.

           See standard output.

           A flow of data into or out of a process as a steady sequence of bytes or characters,
           without the appearance of being broken up into packets. This is a kind of interface—
           the underlying implementation may well break your data up into separate packets for
           delivery, but this is hidden from you.

           A sequence of characters such as “He said !@#*&%@#*?!”.  A string does not have to be
           entirely printable.

       string context
           The situation in which an expression is expected by its surroundings (the code calling
           it) to return a string.  See also context and numeric context.

           The process of producing a string representation of an abstract object.

           C keyword introducing a structure definition or name.

           See data structure.

           See derived class.

           A component of a regular expression pattern.

           A named or otherwise accessible piece of program that can be invoked from elsewhere in
           the program in order to accomplish some subgoal of the program. A subroutine is often
           parameterized to accomplish different but related things depending on its input
           arguments. If the subroutine returns a meaningful value, it is also called a function.

           A value that indicates the position of a particular array element in an array.

           Changing parts of a string via the "s///" operator. (We avoid use of this term to mean
           variable interpolation.)

           A portion of a string, starting at a certain character position (offset) and
           proceeding for a certain number of characters.

           See base class.

           The person whom the operating system will let do almost anything. Typically your
           system administrator or someone pretending to be your system administrator. On Unix
           systems, the root user. On Windows systems, usually the Administrator user.

       SV  Short for “scalar value”. But within the Perl interpreter, every referent is treated
           as a member of a class derived from SV, in an object-oriented sort of way. Every value
           inside Perl is passed around as a C language "SV*" pointer. The SV struct knows its
           own “referent type”, and the code is smart enough (we hope) not to try to call a hash
           function on a subroutine.

           An option you give on a command line to influence the way your program works, usually
           introduced with a minus sign.  The word is also used as a nickname for a switch

       switch cluster
           The combination of multiple command- line switches (e.g., "–a –b –c") into one switch
           (e.g., "–abc").  Any switch with an additional argument must be the last switch in a

       switch statement
           A program technique that lets you evaluate an expression and then, based on the value
           of the expression, do a multiway branch to the appropriate piece of code for that
           value. Also called a “case structure”, named after the similar Pascal construct. Most
           switch statements in Perl are spelled "given". See “The "given" statement” in Camel
           chapter 4, “Statements and Declarations”.

           Generally, any token or metasymbol. Often used more specifically to mean the sort of
           name you might find in a symbol table.

       symbolic debugger
           A program that lets you step through the execution of your program, stopping or
           printing things out here and there to see whether anything has gone wrong, and, if so,
           what. The “symbolic” part just means that you can talk to the debugger using the same
           symbols with which your program is written.

       symbolic link
           An alternate filename that points to the real filename, which in turn points to the
           real file. Whenever the operating system is trying to parse a pathname containing a
           symbolic link, it merely substitutes the new name and continues parsing.

       symbolic reference
           A variable whose value is the name of another variable or subroutine. By dereferencing
           the first variable, you can get at the second one. Symbolic references are illegal
           under "use strict "refs"".

       symbol table
           Where a compiler remembers symbols. A program like Perl must somehow remember all the
           names of all the variables, filehandles, and subroutines you’ve used. It does this by
           placing the names in a symbol table, which is implemented in Perl using a hash table.
           There is a separate symbol table for each package to give each package its own

           Programming in which the orderly sequence of events can be determined; that is, when
           things happen one after the other, not at the same time.

       syntactic sugar
           An alternative way of writing something more easily; a shortcut.

           From Greek σύνταξις, “with-arrangement”. How things (particularly symbols) are put
           together with each other.

       syntax tree
           An internal representation of your program wherein lower-level constructs dangle off
           the higher-level constructs enclosing them.

           A function call directly to the operating system. Many of the important subroutines
           and functions you use aren’t direct system calls, but are built up in one or more
           layers above the system call level. In general, Perl programmers don’t need to worry
           about the distinction. However, if you do happen to know which Perl functions are
           really syscalls, you can predict which of these will set the $!  ($ERRNO) variable on
           failure. Unfortunately, beginning programmers often confusingly employ the term
           “system call” to mean what happens when you call the Perl "system" function, which
           actually involves many syscalls. To avoid any confusion, we nearly always say
           “syscall” for something you could call indirectly via Perl’s "syscall" function, and
           never for something you would call with Perl’s "system" function.

       taint checks
           The special bookkeeping Perl does to track the flow of external data through your
           program and disallow their use in system commands.

           Said of data derived from the grubby hands of a user, and thus unsafe for a secure
           program to rely on. Perl does taint checks if you run a setuid (or setgid) program, or
           if you use the "–T" switch.

       taint mode
           Running under the "–T" switch, marking all external data as suspect and refusing to
           use it with system commands. See Camel chapter 20, “Security”.

       TCP Short for Transmission Control Protocol. A protocol wrapped around the Internet
           Protocol to make an unreliable packet transmission mechanism appear to the application
           program to be a reliable stream of bytes.  (Usually.)

           Short for a “terminal”—that is, a leaf node of a syntax tree. A thing that functions
           grammatically as an operand for the operators in an expression.

           A character or string that marks the end of another string. The $/ variable contains
           the string that terminates a "readline" operation, which "chomp" deletes from the end.
           Not to be confused with delimiters or separators. The period at the end of this
           sentence is a terminator.

           An operator taking three operands. Sometimes pronounced trinary.

           A string or file containing primarily printable characters.

           Like a forked process, but without fork’s inherent memory protection. A thread is
           lighter weight than a full process, in that a process could have multiple threads
           running around in it, all fighting over the same process’s memory space unless steps
           are taken to protect threads from one another.

       tie The bond between a magical variable and its implementation class. See the "tie"
           function in Camel chapter 27, “Functions” and Camel chapter 14, “Tied Variables”.

           The case used for capitals that are followed by lowercase characters instead of by
           more capitals.  Sometimes called sentence case or headline case. English doesn’t use
           Unicode titlecase, but casing rules for English titles are more complicated than
           simply capitalizing each word’s first character.

           There’s More Than One Way To Do It, the Perl Motto. The notion that there can be more
           than one valid path to solving a programming problem in context. (This doesn’t mean
           that more ways are always better or that all possible paths are equally desirable—just
           that there need not be One True Way.)

           A morpheme in a programming language, the smallest unit of text with semantic

           A module that breaks a program text into a sequence of tokens for later analysis by a

           Splitting up a program text into tokens. Also known as “lexing”, in which case you get
           “lexemes” instead of tokens.

       toolbox approach
           The notion that, with a complete set of simple tools that work well together, you can
           build almost anything you want. Which is fine if you’re assembling a tricycle, but if
           you’re building a defranishizing comboflux regurgalator, you really want your own
           machine shop in which to build special tools. Perl is sort of a machine shop.

           The thing you’re working on. Structures like "while(<>)", "for", "foreach", and
           "given" set the topic for you by assigning to $_, the default (topic) variable.

           To turn one string representation into another by mapping each character of the source
           string to its corresponding character in the result string. Not to be confused with
           translation: for example, Greek πολύχρωμος transliterates into polychromos but
           translates into many-colored. See the "tr///" operator in Camel chapter 5, “Pattern

           An event that causes a handler to be run.

           Not a stellar system with three stars, but an operator taking three operands.
           Sometimes pronounced ternary.

           A venerable typesetting language from which Perl derives the name of its $% variable
           and which is secretly used in the production of Camel books.

           Any scalar value that doesn’t evaluate to 0 or "".

           Emptying a file of existing contents, either automatically when opening a file for
           writing or explicitly via the "truncate" function.

           See data type and class.

       type casting
           Converting data from one type to another. C permits this.  Perl does not need it. Nor
           want it.

           A type definition in the C and C++ languages.

       typed lexical
           A lexical variable  lexical>that is declared with a class type: "my Pony $bill".

           Use of a single identifier, prefixed with "*". For example, *name stands for any or
           all of $name, @name, %name, &name, or just "name". How you use it determines whether
           it is interpreted as all or only one of them. See “Typeglobs and Filehandles” in Camel
           chapter 2, “Bits and Pieces”.

           A description of how C types may be transformed to and from Perl types within an
           extension module written in XS.

       UDP User Datagram Protocol, the typical way to send datagrams over the Internet.

       UID A user ID. Often used in the context of file or process ownership.

           A mask of those permission bits that should be forced off when creating files or
           directories, in order to establish a policy of whom you’ll ordinarily deny access to.
           See the "umask" function.

       unary operator
           An operator with only one operand, like "!" or "chdir". Unary operators are usually
           prefix operators; that is, they precede their operand. The "++" and "––" operators can
           be either prefix or postfix. (Their position does change their meanings.)

           A character set comprising all the major character sets of the world, more or less.
           See <>.

           A very large and constantly evolving language with several alternative and largely
           incompatible syntaxes, in which anyone can define anything any way they choose, and
           usually do. Speakers of this language think it’s easy to learn because it’s so easily
           twisted to one’s own ends, but dialectical differences make tribal intercommunication
           nearly impossible, and travelers are often reduced to a pidgin-like subset of the
           language. To be universally understood, a Unix shell programmer must spend years of
           study in the art. Many have abandoned this discipline and now communicate via an
           Esperanto-like language called Perl.

           In ancient times, Unix was also used to refer to some code that a couple of people at
           Bell Labs wrote to make use of a PDP-7 computer that wasn’t doing much of anything
           else at the time.

           In Unicode, not just characters with the General Category of Uppercase Letter, but any
           character with the Uppercase property, including some Letter Numbers and Symbols. Not
           to be confused with titlecase.

           An actual piece of data, in contrast to all the variables, references, keys, indices,
           operators, and whatnot that you need to access the value.

           A named storage location that can hold any of various kinds of value, as your program
           sees fit.

       variable interpolation
           The interpolation of a scalar or array variable into a string.

           Said of a function that happily receives an indeterminate number of actual arguments.

           Mathematical jargon for a list of scalar values.

           Providing the appearance of something without the reality, as in: virtual memory is
           not real memory. (See also memory.) The opposite of “virtual” is “transparent”, which
           means providing the reality of something without the appearance, as in: Perl handles
           the variable-length UTF‑8 character encoding transparently.

       void context
           A form of scalar context in which an expression is not expected to return any value at
           all and is evaluated for its side effects alone.

           A “version” or “vector” string specified with a "v" followed by a series of decimal
           integers in dot notation, for instance, "v1.20.300.4000". Each number turns into a
           character with the specified ordinal value. (The "v" is optional when there are at
           least three integers.)

           A message printed to the "STDERR" stream to the effect that something might be wrong
           but isn’t worth blowing up over. See "warn" in Camel chapter 27, “Functions” and the
           "warnings" pragma in Camel chapter 28, “Pragmantic Modules”.

       watch expression
           An expression which, when its value changes, causes a breakpoint in the Perl debugger.

       weak reference
           A reference that doesn’t get counted normally. When all the normal references to data
           disappear, the data disappears. These are useful for circular references that would
           never disappear otherwise.

           A character that moves your cursor but doesn’t otherwise put anything on your screen.
           Typically refers to any of: space, tab, line feed, carriage return, or form feed. In
           Unicode, matches many other characters that Unicode considers whitespace, including
           the ɴ-ʙʀ .

           In normal “computerese”, the piece of data of the size most efficiently handled by
           your computer, typically 32 bits or so, give or take a few powers of 2. In Perl
           culture, it more often refers to an alphanumeric identifier (including underscores),
           or to a string of nonwhitespace characters bounded by whitespace or string boundaries.

       working directory
           Your current directory, from which relative pathnames are interpreted by the operating
           system. The operating system knows your current directory because you told it with a
           "chdir", or because you started out in the place where your parent process was when
           you were born.

           A program or subroutine that runs some other program or subroutine for you, modifying
           some of its input or output to better suit your purposes.

           What You See Is What You Get. Usually used when something that appears on the screen
           matches how it will eventually look, like Perl’s "format" declarations. Also used to
           mean the opposite of magic because everything works exactly as it appears, as in the
           three- argument form of "open".

       XS  An extraordinarily exported, expeditiously excellent, expressly eXternal Subroutine,
           executed in existing C or C++ or in an exciting extension language called
           (exasperatingly) XS.

           An external subroutine defined in XS.

           Yet Another Compiler Compiler. A parser generator without which Perl probably would
           not have existed. See the file perly.y in the Perl source distribution.

       zero width
           A subpattern assertion matching the null string between characters.

           A process that has died (exited) but whose parent has not yet received proper
           notification of its demise by virtue of having called "wait" or "waitpid". If you
           "fork", you must clean up after your child processes when they exit; otherwise, the
           process table will fill up and your system administrator will Not Be Happy with you.


       Based on the Glossary of Programming Perl, Fourth Edition, by Tom Christiansen, brian d
       foy, Larry Wall, & Jon Orwant.  Copyright (c) 2000, 1996, 1991, 2012 O'Reilly Media, Inc.
       This document may be distributed under the same terms as Perl itself.