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describe (Function)

— Function: describe object &optional stream <no values>
Arguments and Values:

object—an object.

stream—an output stream designator. The default is standard output.


describe displays information about object to stream.

For example, describe of a symbol might show the symbol's value, its definition, and each of its properties. describe of a float might show the number's internal representation in a way that is useful for tracking down round-off errors. In all cases, however, the nature and format of the output of describe is implementation-dependent.

describe can describe something that it finds inside the object; in such cases, a notational device such as increased indentation or positioning in a table is typically used in order to visually distinguish such recursive descriptions from descriptions of the argument object.

The actual act of describing the object is implemented by describe-object. describe exists as an interface primarily to manage argument defaulting (including conversion of arguments t and nil into stream objects) and to inhibit any return values from describe-object.

describe is not intended to be an interactive function. In a conforming implementation, describe must not, by default, prompt for user input. User-defined methods for describe-object are likewise restricted.

Side Effects:

Output to standard output or terminal I/O.

Affected By:

*standard-output* and *terminal-io*, methods on describe-object and print-object for objects having user-defined classes.

See Also:

inspect, describe-object