According to wikipedia, perl is a "family of high-level, general-purpose, interpreted, dynamic programming languages. The languages in this family include Perl 5 and Perl 6"
high-level: has strong abstraction from the details of the computer
general-purpose: to be used for writing software for a variety of applications
interpreted: uses an interpreter to execute the code
dynamic: code execution is at run time rather than compile time
Exciting stuff... Here's some more interesting (I hope) information:
In the short time I've been using perl, I've always wondered where the name actually comes from. I found out that Larry Wall, the creator of Perl just wanted an easy to remember, short word with a nice, positive connotation. It's that simple. Apparently he went through every short word in the dictionary before settling on "Pearl". He then realised before the official release that there was in fact another programming language with the same name already in existence and promptly changed it to the spelling we all know and love - "Perl".
Perl also has a backronym associated with it (making up a phrase to go with the letters of the word):
I've also discovered that Perl was invented in 1987, before I was born, which definitely excuses me for being way behind.
Perl is notorious for the ever lengthening time between releases with the last full release being in 1994. In 2000, Larry Wall took suggestions from the perl community for the development of Perl 6 and created documents called "apocalypses" which showed the changes and proposed design based on these suggestions. From what I see, Perl 6 is still just theoretical although there are implementations of it based on the apocalypses. So I guess we're still waiting. Meanwhile Perl 5 is still being updated and at the time of writing, the latest stable release is 5.18.1.