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Perl Quick Reference

15.13 Regular Expressions

Each character matches itself, unless it is one of the special characters + ? . * ^ $ ( ) [ ] { } | \. The special meaning of these characters can be escaped using a \.


Matches an arbitrary character, but not a newline unless it is a single-line match (see m/ /s).


Groups a series of pattern elements to a single element.


Matches the beginning of the target. In multiline mode (see m//m) also matches after every newline character.


Matches the end of the line. In multiline mode also matches before every newline character.


Denotes a class of characters to match. [^] negates the class.

(... | ... | ...)

Matches one of the alternatives.

(?# text)


(?: regexp)

Like (regexp) but does not make back-references.

(?= regexp)

Zero width positive look-ahead assertion.

(?! regexp)

Zero width negative look-ahead assertion.

(? modifier)

Embedded pattern-match modifier. modifier can be one or more of i, m, s, or x.

Quantified subpatterns match as many times as possible. When followed with a ? they match the minimum number of times. These are the quantifiers:


Matches the preceding pattern element one or more times.


Matches zero or one times.


Matches zero or more times.


Denotes the minimum n and maximum m match count. {n} means exactly n times; {n,} means at least n times.

A escapes any special meaning of the following character if non-alphanumeric, but it turns most alphanumeric characters into something special:


Matches alphanumeric, including _, \W matches non-alphanumeric.


Matches whitespace, \S matches non-whitespace.


Matches numeric, \D matches non-numeric.


Matches the beginning of the string, \Z matches the end.


Matches word boundaries, \B matches non-boundaries.


Matches where the previous m/ /g search left off.

\n, \r, \f, \t, etc.

Have their usual meaning.

\w, \s, and \d

May be used within character classes, \b denotes a backspace in this context.



Refer to matched subexpressions, grouped with ( ), inside the match.

\10 and up

Can also be used if the pattern matches that many subexpressions.

See also $1...$9, $+, $&, $`, and $' in Special Variables.

With modifier x, whitespace can be used in the patterns for readability purposes.

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