I can't seem to get abbrevs working in ess-mode when editing .R files.

I have ess-mode hook to activate abbrev-mode, but I get no expansion for my global abbrevs.

When I do add-mode-abbrev I can add an abbrev, but it is not written to my abbrev file and of course doesn't get ever expanded (after read-abbrev-file or restart).

If I by hand add something like this into my abbrev file and reload:

(define-abbrev-table 'ess-mode-abbrev-table
    ("-=" "<-" nil 0)

it doesn't work either.

How can I make ess-mode aware of my abbrevs?

  • ESS provides an electric underscore, meaning if you type "_", it inserts "<-". That might be easier than typing "-=" anyways.
    – Tyler
    Sep 22, 2016 at 20:10

1 Answer 1


I'm working on abbrev as well and it seems only word-constituent characters can be part of an abbrev. Thus I don't think you can use "-=" as an abbrev. Have you tried using other characters?

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