May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
(slightly skeptical) Educational society promoting "Back to basics" movement against IT overcomplexity and  bastardization of classic Unix

Perl uc, lc, ucfirst and lcfirst functions

News Perl Language Recommended Links Perl string operations Reference Shell tr command
sort substr split sprintf  index and rindex chomp
join Perl uc, lc, ucfirst and lcfirst functions x operator in Perl Regular expressions    
Nikolai Bezroukov. Simplified Perl for Unix System Administrators Trim Pipes in Perl Perl history Humor Etc

Function uc() returns an uppercase version of the string that you give it. For example, if you say something like:

$name = uc("Hello");
print $name; # this will prints 'HELLO'
Function ucfirst() returns a capitalized version of the string:
$name = ucfirst("hello");
print $name; # prints "Hello";

If we note absence of head, tail and truncate functions in Perl.  To increase usefulness of the function like ucfirst it might make sense slightly generalize it to provide the possibility to capitalize not only the first letter but any substring by providing second and third arguments.

Symmetrically lc() and lcfirst() return lowercased versions of strings. lc returns all lowercase. Function lcfirst() makes the first character uncapitalized -- sometimes useful for names, but again this is a very limited application and probably function needs some generalization.

One frequent use of ucfirst and lc is to get a capitalized word:


This combination of ucfirst with lc is useful for other string formatting tasks. For example, let's assume that we need to format a string as a title (with each word starting with a capital letter). Here is a very simple solution for this problem:

foreach $w (@words) {
   $w=ucfirst(lc($w) # we are using side effect of foreach loop
$title=join(' ',@words);

Usually articles like "a" and "the" are not capitalized in titles so we can modify the code to accomplish this in the following way:

foreach $w (@words) {  
   next if ($w eq 'a' || $w eq 'the');    
$title=join(' ',@words);
The same effect in a slightly more compact way can be achieved using map instead of foreach loop. This modification we leave as an exercise for the reader.

You can use iether  lc and uc functions or the \L and \U string escapes is double quotes literals.

use locale;                     # needed in 5.004 or above

$big = uc($little);             # "bo peep" -> "BO PEEP"
$little = lc($big);             # "JOHN"    -> "john"
$big = "\U$little";             # "bo peep" -> "BO PEEP"
$little = "\L$big";             # "JOHN"    -> "john"

To alter just one character, use the lcfirst and ucfirst functions or the \l and \u string escapes.

$big = "\u$little";             # "bo"      -> "Bo"
$little = "\l$big";             # "BoPeep"    -> "boPeep" 

The functions and string escapes look different, but both do the same thing. You can set the case of either the first character or the whole string. You can even do both at once to force uppercase on initial characters and lowercase on the rest.

The use locale directive tells Perl's case-conversion functions and pattern matching engine to respect your language environment, allowing for characters with diacritical marks, and so on. A common mistake is to use tr/// to convert case. (the old Camel book recommended tr/A-Z/a-z/ which is wrong.) This won't work in all situations because when you say tr/A-Z/a-z/ you have omitted all characters with umlauts, accent marks, cedillas, and other diacritics used in dozens of languages, including English. The uc and \U case-changing commands understand these characters and convert them properly, at least when you've said use locale. (An exception is that in German, the uppercase form of ъ is SS, but it's not in Perl.)

use locale;                     # needed in 5.004 or above

$beast   = "dromedary";
# capitalize various parts of $beast
$capit   = ucfirst($beast);         # Dromedary
$capit   = "\u\L$beast";            # (same)
$capall  = uc($beast);              # DROMEDARY
$capall  = "\U$beast";              # (same)
$caprest = lcfirst(uc($beast));     # dROMEDARY
$caprest = "\l\U$beast";            # (same)

These capitalization changing escapes are commonly used to make the case in a string consistent:

# capitalize each word's first character, downcase the rest
$text = "thIS is a loNG liNE";
$text =~ s/(\w+)/\u\L$1/g;
print $text;
This Is A Long Line

You can also use their functional forms to do case-insensitive comparison:

if (uc($a) eq uc($b)) {
    print "a and b are the same\n";

The randcap program shown below, randomly capitalizes 20 percent of the letters of its input. 

#!/usr/bin/perl -p
# randcap: filter to randomly capitalize 20% of the letters
# call to srand() is unnecessary in 5.004
BEGIN { srand(time() ^ ($$ + ($$ << 15))) }
sub randcase { rand(100) < 20 ? "\u$_[0]" : "\l$_[0]" }

% randcap < genesis | head -9
boOk 01 genesis

001:001 in the BEginning goD created the heaven and tHe earTh.
001:002 and the earth wAS without ForM, aND void; AnD darkneSS was
 upon The Face of the dEEp. and the spIrit of GOd movEd upOn
 tHe face of the Waters.

001:003 and god Said, let there be ligHt: and therE wAs LigHt.

A more interesting approach would have been to take advantage of Perl's ability to use bitwise operators on strings:

sub randcase {
    rand(100) < 20 ? ("\040" ^ $1) : $1

That would, in 20 percent of the cases, switch the case of the letter. However, this misbehaves on 8-bit characters. The original randcase program had the same problem, but applying use locale would have easily fixed it.

This example of bitwise string operations quickly strips off all the high bits on a string:

$string &= "\177" x length($string);

Again, they'll be talking about you all over Europe, and not in the most glowing of terms, if you force all strings to seven bits.


lc function can be used to make operation of index function not case dependent.

See Also

The uc, lc, ucfirst, and lcfirst functions in perlfunc (1) and Chapter 3 of Programming Perl; the \L, \U, \l, and \u string escapes in the "Quote and Quote-like Operators" section of perlop (1) and Chapter 2 of Programming Perl

Top Visited
Past week
Past month


Old News ;-)

Recommended Links

Google matched content

Softpanorama Recommended

Top articles




Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy


War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes


Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law


Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Haterís Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D

Copyright © 1996-2021 by Softpanorama Society. was initially created as a service to the (now defunct) UN Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) without any remuneration. This document is an industrial compilation designed and created exclusively for educational use and is distributed under the Softpanorama Content License. Original materials copyright belong to respective owners. Quotes are made for educational purposes only in compliance with the fair use doctrine.

FAIR USE NOTICE This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to advance understanding of computer science, IT technology, economic, scientific, and social issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided by section 107 of the US Copyright Law according to which such material can be distributed without profit exclusively for research and educational purposes.

This is a Spartan WHYFF (We Help You For Free) site written by people for whom English is not a native language. Grammar and spelling errors should be expected. The site contain some broken links as it develops like a living tree...

You can use PayPal to to buy a cup of coffee for authors of this site


The statements, views and opinions presented on this web page are those of the author (or referenced source) and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of the Softpanorama society. We do not warrant the correctness of the information provided or its fitness for any purpose. The site uses AdSense so you need to be aware of Google privacy policy. You you do not want to be tracked by Google please disable Javascript for this site. This site is perfectly usable without Javascript.

Last modified: July, 28, 2019