Quoth perlop (update on seeing reply: or maybe perlop2):
If and only if the input symbol is
the only thing inside the conditional of a "while" statement (even if disguised as a "for(;;)" loop), the value is
automatically assigned to the global variable $_, destroying whatever was there previously....
In these loop constructs, the assigned value (whether
assignment is automatic or explicit) is then tested to see
whether it is defined....
As with filehandle reads, an automatic "defined" is gener
ated when the glob occurs in the test part of a "while",
because legal glob returns (e.g. a file called 0) would
otherwise terminate the loop....
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