How can I use dolist to repeat an operation for each item in a list?

I have a sequence of statements:

(put 'downcase-region 'disabled nil)
(put 'upcase-region 'disabled nil)
(put 'narrow-to-defun 'disabled nil)
(put 'narrow-to-region 'disabled nil)
(put 'narrow-to-page 'disabled nil)
(put 'set-goal-column 'disabled nil)

that I want to re-factor by putting each name into a list, then repeating the operation for each name.

So I think the dolist function can achieve this.

This fails:

(dolist (command
  (put command 'disabled nil)))

with an error

Invalid function: 'downcase-region

Why is that an “invalid function” in one instance but not the other?

How should that dolist be written to achieve the same effect as the first example?


1 Answer 1


an error

Invalid function: 'downcase-region

Why is that an “invalid function” in one instance but not the other?

The error is complaining that it's been asked to invoke a function, named 'downcase-region.

This is because the list ('downcase-region 'upcase-region 'narrow-to-defun …) is evaluated immediately; which attempts to invoke a function named 'downcase-region. Which doesn't exist.

Instead of evaluating the list immediately, the list needs to survive as-is as a value for the dolist function. You do this by quoting the list.

(dolist (command
  (put command 'disabled nil))
  • 2
    Almost, you should drop the inner quotes. And you're missing a close parenthesis. Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 9:17
  • I've fixed those problems.
    – phils
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 2:49
  • @bignose: Re: your "format code more readably" edit -- if you're not using the standard indentation that Emacs gives you, you're (a) going to unnecessary effort; and (b) going to end up with code that no one else finds readable. I strongly recommend you simply get accustomed to how everyone else (and Emacs) formats lisp -- you will consider it readable soon enough.
    – phils
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 5:07

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