no time to learn lisp is false economy ;o)
– resolve

Emacs Lisp, or Elisp (see EmacsLispLegalName), is a variant of MacLisp that much of Emacs is written in, as well as being the extension language that customizations and extensions are written in.

Emacs Lisp is what makes Emacs ExtensibleSoftware. Customizations and extensions can be made quickly and portably. Some of the ways that Emacs Lisp is used to extend Emacs include hooking custom Emacs Lisp functions into events, binding functions to key combinations, creating new editing modes and even writing whole applications for the WorldWideWeb or other Internet clients.

Lisp has been rumored to stand for Lots of Insignificant Silly Parentheses, but it really means LISt Processor.

To read about other kinds of Lisp and how to use them in conjunction with Emacs, see CommonLisp and Scheme.

EmacsLispReference is the official documentation.

EmacsLispIntro is a book for non-programmers available from the FreeSoftwareFoundation and is shipped with Emacs.

For help on using other people’s Emacs Lisp, see InstallingPackages.

If you are wondering about all the quoting syntaxes like ?a 'b #c `(,d e) :f (g . h) etc., then see EmacsSymbolNotation.

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