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36.2 Defining Abbrevs

define-abbrev is the low-level basic function for defining an abbrev in an abbrev table.

When a major mode defines a system abbrev, it should call define-abbrev and specify t for the :system property. Be aware that any saved non-system abbrevs are restored at startup, i.e., before some major modes are loaded. Therefore, major modes should not assume that their abbrev tables are empty when they are first loaded.

function define-abbrev abbrev-table name expansion \&optional hook \&rest props​

This function defines an abbrev named name, in abbrev-table, to expand to expansion and call hook, with properties props (see Abbrev Properties). The return value is name. The :system property in props is treated specially here: if it has the value force, then it will overwrite an existing definition even for a non-system abbrev of the same name.

name should be a string. The argument expansion is normally the desired expansion (a string), or nil to undefine the abbrev. If it is anything but a string or nil, then the abbreviation expands solely by running hook.

The argument hook is a function or nil. If hook is non-nil, then it is called with no arguments after the abbrev is replaced with expansion; point is located at the end of expansion when hook is called.

If hook is a non-nil symbol whose no-self-insert property is non-nil, hook can explicitly control whether to insert the self-inserting input character that triggered the expansion. If hook returns non-nil in this case, that inhibits insertion of the character. By contrast, if hook returns nil, expand-abbrev (or abbrev-insert) also returns nil, as if expansion had not really occurred.

Normally, define-abbrev sets the variable abbrevs-changed to t, if it actually changes the abbrev. This is so that some commands will offer to save the abbrevs. It does not do this for a system abbrev, since those aren’t saved anyway.

user option only-global-abbrevs​

If this variable is non-nil, it means that the user plans to use global abbrevs only. This tells the commands that define mode-specific abbrevs to define global ones instead. This variable does not alter the behavior of the functions in this section; it is examined by their callers.