Perl was originally named "Pearl", after the Parable of the Pearl from the Gospel of Matthew. Larry Wall wanted to give the language a short name with positive connotations; he claims that he considered (and rejected) every three- and four-letter word in the dictionary. He also considered naming it after his wife Gloria. Wall discovered the existing PEARL programming language before Perl's official release and changed the spelling of the
When referring to the language, the name is normally capitalized (Perl) as a proper noun. When referring to the interpreter program itself, the name is often uncapitalized (perl) because most Unix-like file systems are case-sensitive. Before the release of the first edition of Programming Perl, it was common to refer to the language as perl; Randal L. Schwartz, however, capitalized the language's name in the book to make it stand out better when typeset. This case distinction was subsequently documented as
There is some contention about the all-caps spelling "PERL", which the documentation declares
incorrect and which some core community members consider a sign of outsiders. The name is occasionally backronymed as Practical Extraction and Report Language (which appears at the top of the
documentation) and in some printed literature. Several backronyms have been suggested as equally canonical, including Wall's own humorous Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish
Lister. Indeed, Wall claims that the name was intended to inspire many different expansions.