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Emacs symbolism

There are a couple of symbols the emacs‘ lisp interpreter gives special meaning to. Since for some reason these never made it into my long-term memory I collect them here for later reference. Quotes are copied from all over the internet (mostly from GNU Emacs Lisp reference). A reference is given in the last column.

Symbol Meaning Reference
# The sharp quote (or function quote puttygen download , or simply #‘) is an abbreviation for the function form. It is essentially a version of quote (or ‚) which enables byte-compilation, but its actual usefulness has changed throughout the years. reference
` Backquote constructs allow you to quote a list, but selectively evaluate elements of that list. reference
: A symbol whose name starts with a colon (‘:’) is called a keyword symbol. These symbols automatically act as constants, and are normally used only by comparing an unknown symbol with a few specific alternatives. reference
, Unquotes expressions in backquote-constructs. reference
' Prevents its single argument from beeing evaluated reference
? Introduces a „character literal“ (eg ?a). Evaluates to the printed representation of the character. reference

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Splice an evaluated value into a list reference
; Introduces a comment. reference

4 Kommentare

  1. Elias

    In your list, you state that , prevents the argument from being evaluated. I think you actually meant to type ‚

    Also, you might want to include ? and ,@ in the list.

    • Matthias

      Thanks for the hint. WordPress substitutes my apostrophe with another character, but using html entity works.

      I have never ever encountered ? and ,@ if you give me some pointers I like to include them!

      • mina86

        ,@ is often used in macros which accept &rest argument. For example, from subr.el:

        (defmacro ignore-errors (&rest body)
        „Execute BODY; if an error occurs, return nil.
        `(condition-case nil (progn ,@body) (error nil)))

        It’s documented at the same page as backquotes are.

  2. Florian

    And ; is missing 🙂

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