I'm using emacs on MAC OSX

ELISP> (emacs-version)
"GNU Emacs 27.0.50 (build 1, x86_64-apple-darwin18.7.0, NS appkit-1671.60 Version 10.14.6 (Build 18G95))
 of 2019-09-06"

ielm REPL echoes back the octal, hex and character representation when entering an integer less than or equal to 127:

81 (#o121, #x51, ?Q)
97 (#o141, #x61, ?a)

But when using unicode chars like for example lambda ('λ') I get only the number 955

ELISP> 955
955 (#o1673, #x3bb)
ELISP> ?\N{Greek small letter Lamda}
955 (#o1673, #x3bb)
ELISP> ?\u03bb
955 (#o1673, #x3bb)

Since Emacs support full unicode, (you need to use Symbola or some similar font), it should be possible for ielm to echo back the actual glyph for the character:

ELISP> (concat '(?I 32 955 32 ?\u2665 32) "Emacs") "I λ ♥ Emacs"

1 Answer 1


This behaviour is controlled by the eval-expression-print-maximum-character variable.

eval-expression-print-maximum-character is a variable defined in `simple.el'.
Its value is 2305843009213693951
Original value was 127

  Probably introduced at or before Emacs version 26.1.

The largest integer that will be displayed as a character.
This affects printing by `eval-expression' (via

See Lisp-Eval for further details.

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