User Tools

Function INTERN


  • intern string &optional packagesymbol, status

Arguments and Values


intern enters a symbol named string into package. If a symbol whose name is the same as string is already accessible in package, it is returned. If no such symbol is accessible in package, a new symbol with the given name is created and entered into package as an internal symbol, or as an external symbol if the package is the keyword package; package becomes the home package of the created symbol.

The first value returned by intern, symbol, is the symbol that was found or created.

The meaning of the secondary value, status, is as follows:


The symbol was found and is present in package as an internal symbol.


The symbol was found and is present as an external symbol.


The symbol was found and is inherited via use-package (which implies that the symbol is internal).


No pre-existing symbol was found, so one was created.

It is implementation-dependent whether the string that becomes the new symbol's name is the given string or a copy of it. Once a string has been given as the string argument to intern in this situation where a new symbol is created, the consequences are undefined if a subsequent attempt is made to alter that string.


(in-package "COMMON-LISP-USER") → #<PACKAGE "COMMON-LISP-USER"> (intern "Never-Before") → |Never-Before|, NIL (intern "Never-Before") → |Never-Before|, :INTERNAL (intern "NEVER-BEFORE" "KEYWORD") → :NEVER-BEFORE, NIL (intern "NEVER-BEFORE" "KEYWORD") → :NEVER-BEFORE, :EXTERNAL

Side Effects


Affected By


Exceptional Situations


See Also


intern does not need to do any name conflict checking because it never creates a new symbol if there is already an accessible symbol with the name given.