What does the ":" in shell scripts mean?

I found the following in a shell script.
Probably 'USE_MAD' is an environment variable.


I found the following but could not aply this to my case, since there is no if / else


Several scripting languages might use : as a separator. In that case if USE_MAD was previously defined you would prepend that to /path/to/script.sh.

It would help though to know what scripting language this is and the wider context of that statement.

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