kill-word and backward-kill-word deletes too much text:


Now if I press C-<backspace>:


What I want is:


after pressing C-<backspace>, just like how the other editors do.

EDIT: Based on the answer from @gigiair, I'm trying to implement the command sequency in elisp, but I'm getting "Wrong number of arguments" when executing the code:

(defun leo/backward-kill-word ()
  "Better backward-kill-word."

I'm new to elisp, know nothing about.

  • emacs.stackexchange.com/tags/elisp/info
    – Drew
    Oct 26, 2021 at 17:01
  • What other editors? E.g. vim does not do that when I use C-<backspace> either in insert or in edit mode.
    – NickD
    Oct 26, 2021 at 18:45
  • set-mark-command takes an argument (see its doc string with C-h f set-mark-command). *BUT* you should *not* use set-mark-command` (or set-mark) from lisp: it's supposed to be used interactively. See the doc string of set-mark with C-h f set-mark.
    – NickD
    Oct 26, 2021 at 22:21
  • And BTW, backward-delete-char-untabify also takes an argument, but you probably shouldn't be using that either. Using delete-region (or kill-region depending on whether you do not or you do want to keep the contents of the region in the kill-ring) as in the answer below is a much better way. But I don't think that the sexp motion commands are appropriate for this problem.
    – NickD
    Oct 26, 2021 at 23:52

1 Answer 1


This sequence does it :

 C-SPC                      ;; set-mark-command
 C-M-b                      ;; backward-sexp
 C-M-f                      ;; forward-sexp
 <backspace>                ;; backward-delete-char-untabify

This function executes this code :

(defun leo/backward-kill-word ()
  "Better backward-kill-word."
  (let((beg (point)))
      (delete-region beg (point))))

This function is probably better

(defun leo/backward-kill-word ()
      "Better backward-kill-word."
      (backward-delete-char-untabify 1))
  • I'm trying to create a command for this, but I'm getting "Wrong number of arguments" when I execute. See the elisp code I added to my question. I'm new to elisp.
    – user36468
    Oct 26, 2021 at 20:17
  • The sexp commands are probably a bad idea: they move the cursor across a "balanced" expression. Try getting rid of the opening paren in the OP's test and see what happens. It is better to acknowledge first that what the OP wants is not a "better" backward-kill-word but a different function altogether, one that deletes (or perhaps kills) whitspace backwards until something happens (the OP has not made clear what that is: the example seems to indicate that he wants to reach the first non-whitespace character, but the title of the question says differently).
    – NickD
    Oct 26, 2021 at 22:37
  • @maverick1013 read the recommendation for novice in (describe-function 'set-mark-command)
    – gigiair
    Oct 26, 2021 at 22:38

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