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The string following whatever was matched by the last successful pattern match (not counting any matches hidden within a BLOCK or eval() enclosed by the current BLOCK). (Mnemonic: ' often follows a quoted string.) Example:

$_ = 'abcdefghi';
print "$`:$&:$'\n";  	# prints abc:def:ghi

This variable is read-only.

The use of this variable anywhere in a program imposes a considerable performance penalty on all regular expression matches. See the Devel::SawAmpersand module from CPAN for more information.