I had a bug in one of my extensions that eventually turned out to be caused by set not working as I expected:

;; -*- lexical-binding: t -*-

(let ((a nil))
  (setq a t)
  (print a))

(let ((a nil))
  (set 'a t)
  (print a))

when run with emacs -Q --batch -l temp.el prints:



This seems very strange to me. I was under the impression that (setq a b) is shorthand for (set 'a b). What's going on?


This is documented behaviour. The (much improved) explanation in the Emacs 25.1 elisp manual is as follows:

Note that unlike dynamic variables which are tied to the symbol object itself, the relationship between lexical variables and symbols is only present in the interpreter (or compiler). Therefore, functions which take a symbol argument (like ‘symbol-value’, ‘boundp’, and ‘set’) can only retrieve or modify a variable’s dynamic binding (i.e., the contents of its symbol’s value cell).

C-hig (elisp) Lexical Binding

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