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(elisp)Self-Evaluating Forms


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Self-Evaluating Forms
---------------------

   A "self-evaluating form" is any form that is not a list or symbol.
Self-evaluating forms evaluate to themselves: the result of evaluation
is the same object that was evaluated.  Thus, the number 25 evaluates to
25, and the string `"foo"' evaluates to the string `"foo"'.  Likewise,
evaluation of a vector does not cause evaluation of the elements of the
vector--it returns the same vector with its contents unchanged.

     '123               ; A number, shown without evaluation.
          => 123
     123                ; Evaluated as usual--result is the same.
          => 123
     (eval '123)        ; Evaluated "by hand"--result is the same.
          => 123
     (eval (eval '123)) ; Evaluating twice changes nothing.
          => 123

   It is common to write numbers, characters, strings, and even vectors
in Lisp code, taking advantage of the fact that they self-evaluate.
However, it is quite unusual to do this for types that lack a read
syntax, because there's no way to write them textually.  It is possible
to construct Lisp expressions containing these types by means of a Lisp
program.  Here is an example:

     ;; Build an expression containing a buffer object.
     (setq print-exp (list 'print (current-buffer)))
          => (print #<buffer eval.texi>)
     ;; Evaluate it.
     (eval print-exp)
          -| #<buffer eval.texi>
          => #<buffer eval.texi>


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