I want to get the effect of a static variable by using defun inside of let with lexical binding to create a closure. However, when byte-compiling the file, I get a warning. Am I doing something wrong, or if not, is there a way to suppress this warning?

I've created an MCVE:

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

(let ((count 0))
  (defun increase-count ()
    (setq count (1+ count))
    (message "Count is: %d" count))

  ;; The warning happens here.

The code works as expected: the function increase-count prints out "Count is: n" where n increases each time it is called. However, when byte-compiling this file, I get the following warning:

In end of data:
mcve.el:11:1:Warning: the function ‘increase-count’ is not known to be

It seems to me that increase-count should always be defined before it is called at the end of the let-block. Is this not the case?

  • defun does not do what you think it does, it always creates a top-level definition. Elisp is after all not Scheme...
    – wasamasa
    Jan 7, 2017 at 15:07
  • 2
    I'm aware that it creates a top-level definition; that's what I want. I just want that top level definition to be a closure. It seems to be working the way I want, except for this byte-compilation warning. Jan 7, 2017 at 15:30

3 Answers 3


The byte-compiler's way to decide whether a function will be defined or not is very "naive" and gets fooled even in your "obvious" case. But you can write it in a way that lets the compiler understand what happens:

(defalias 'increase-count
  (let ((count 0))
    (lambda ()
      (setq count (1+ count))
      (message "Count is: %d" count))))

Of course, even better would be to improve the byte-compiler's logic: patches welcome for that.


To suppress the byte-compiler warning, try adding this before your code, starting in column 0 (leftmost):

(declare-function increase-count "your-file-name.el")

C-h f declare-function tells you:

declare-function is a Lisp macro in subr.el.

(declare-function FN FILE &optional ARGLIST FILEONLY)

Tell the byte-compiler that function FN is defined, in FILE. The FILE argument is not used by the byte-compiler, but by the check-declare package, which checks that FILE contains a definition for FN.

FILE can be either a Lisp file (in which case the ".el" extension is optional), or a C file. C files are expanded relative to the Emacs "src/" directory. Lisp files are searched for using locate-library, and if that fails they are expanded relative to the location of the file containing the declaration. A FILE with an "ext:" prefix is an external file. check-declare will check such files if they are found, and skip them without error if they are not.

Optional ARGLIST specifies FN’s arguments, or is t to not specify FN’s arguments. An omitted ARGLIST defaults to t, not nil: a nil ARGLIST specifies an empty argument list, and an explicit t ARGLIST is a placeholder that allows supplying a later arg.

Optional FILEONLY non-nil means that check-declare will check only that FILE exists, not that it defines FN. This is intended for function definitions that check-declare does not recognize, e.g., defstruct.

Note that for the purposes of check-declare, this statement must be the first non-whitespace on a line.

For more information, see Info node (elisp)Declaring Functions.

  • Is a non-nil FILEONLY argument necessary for the case at hand? BTW, I would have given the same answer;-).
    – Tobias
    Mar 16, 2018 at 20:30
  • @Tobias: FILEONLY didn't seem to be needed here, for me. Which would seem to indicate that check-declare recognizes the f and g defuns.
    – Drew
    Mar 16, 2018 at 20:52
  • @Drew, I think that last comment about f and g only makes sense in the context of emacs.stackexchange.com/q/39439 ?
    – phils
    Mar 19, 2018 at 22:19
  • @phils: Yes, I meant to say this: FILEONLY didn't seem to be needed here, for me. Which would seem to indicate that check-declare recognizes the increase-count defun. ;-)
    – Drew
    Mar 19, 2018 at 23:13

I believe placing the definition in question within eval-and-compile would also superficially achieve the same result as in Stefan's correct answer:

  (let ((count 0))
    (defun increase-count ()
      (setq count (1+ count))
      (message "Count is: %d" count))))

I am, however, barely familiar with the subtleties of using eval-and-compile and, furthermore, do not expect this approach to be in any way superior.

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