What does %s mean in a python format string?

It is a string formatting syntax (which it borrows from C).

Please see “PyFormat”:

Python supports formatting values into strings. Although this can include very complicated expressions, the most basic usage is to insert values into a string with the %s placeholder.

Edit: Here is a really simple example:

name = raw_input("who are you? ")
print "hello %s" % (name,)

name = input("who are you? ")
print("hello %s" % (name,))

The %s token allows me to insert (and potentially format) a string. Notice that the %s token is replaced by whatever I pass to the string after the % symbol. Notice also that I am using a tuple here as well (when you only have one string using a tuple is optional) to illustrate that multiple strings can be inserted and formatted in one statement.

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