Perl is an open-source general-purpose programming language. It was originally designed for processing and manipulating large batches of text, but is now used for many purposes. It is most commonly used for writing Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts for web servers, analyzing log files, and performing system administration tasks.

Perl borrows syntax from the C language, the Unix shell, and other common shell scripting languages. It is a flexible language built on the principle that "there's more than one way to do it." Its flexibility and common roots in other programming languages give Perl an easy learning curve. Perl does not limit programmers to a single paradigm, instead allowing developers to choose between procedural, object-oriented, or functional programming. It is also an interpreted language, meaning that the Perl interpreter can run scripts without compiling code.

The designers of Perl focused on enabling programmers to write programs quickly and easily; the efficient use of computing resources was not a priority. Perl includes features that make Perl scripts more resource-intensive than performing the same task in a program written in C. Perl is also a forgiving language, tolerating exceptions to its rules; this can make finding bugs in the code difficult.

NOTE: Perl is not an acronym, although various backronyms have been created for it like "Practical Extraction and Reporting Language."

Updated November 29, 2022 by Brian P.

quizTest Your Knowledge

Writing HTML source code for a website is what type of development?

Correct! Incorrect!     View the Backend definition.
More Quizzes →

The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

The definition of Perl on this page is an original definition written by the team. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, please use the green citation links above.

The goal of is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about this definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.