That's the "mode" argument, or "permission mode" to be a little more verbose.
I agree that the argument should be named "mode", but that's not how it is documented. In 5.8's perlfunc:
mkdir FILENAME,MASK mkdir FILENAME
Note: in 5.005, it was called mode.
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•Re: Re: •Re: "not enough arguments" with 'mkdir' command
by merlyn (Sage) on Dec 09, 2003 at 20:25 UTC