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## What to Count?

When we first start thinking about how to count the words in a function definition, the first question is (or ought to be) what are we going to count? When we speak of `words' with respect to a Lisp function definition, we are actually speaking, in large part, of `symbols'. For example, the following ` multiply-by-seven ` function contains the five symbols ` defun `, ` multiply-by-seven `, ` number `, ` * `, and ` 7 `. In addition, in the documentation string, it contains the four words `Multiply', `NUMBER', `by', and `seven'. The symbol `number' is repeated, so the definition contains a total of ten words and symbols.

```(defun multiply-by-seven (number)
"Multiply NUMBER by seven."
(* 7 number))
```

However, if we mark the ` multiply-by-seven ` definition with C-M-h (` mark-defun `), and then call ` count-words-region ` on it, we will find that ` count-words-region ` claims the definition has eleven words, not ten! Something is wrong!

The problem is twofold: ` count-words-region ` does not count the `*' as a word, and it counts the single symbol, ` multiply-by-seven `, as containing three words. The hyphens are treated as if they were interword spaces rather than intraword connectors: `multiply-by-seven' is counted as if it were written `multiply by seven'.

The cause of this confusion is the regular expression search within the ` count-words-region ` definition that moves point forward word by word. In the canonical version of ` count-words-region `, the regexp is:

```"\\w+\\W*"
```

This regular expression is a pattern defining one or more word constituent characters possibly followed by one or more characters that are not word constituents. What is meant by `word constituent characters' brings us to the issue of syntax, which is worth a section of its own.

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