Disabling a command marks the command as requiring confirmation before it can be executed. The purpose of disabling a command is to prevent beginning users from executing it by accident and being confused.
An attempt to invoke a disabled command interactively in Emacs displays a window containing the command's name, its documentation, and some instructions on what to do immediately; then Emacs asks for input saying whether to execute the command as requested, enable it and execute it, or cancel. If you decide to enable the command, you are asked whether to do this permanently or just for the current session. Enabling permanently works by automatically editing your `.emacs' file.
The direct mechanism for disabling a command is to put a
disabled property on the Lisp symbol for the
command. Here is the Lisp program to do this:
(put 'delete-region 'disabled t)
If the value of the
disabled property is a string, that string
is included in the message printed when the command is used:
(put 'delete-region 'disabled "It's better to use `kill-region' instead.\n")
You can make a command disabled either by editing the `.emacs' file directly or with the command M-x disable-command, which edits the `.emacs' file for you. Likewise, M-x enable-command edits `.emacs' to enable a command permanently. See section The Init File, `~/.emacs'.
Whether a command is disabled is independent of what key is used to invoke it; disabling also applies if the command is invoked using M-x. Disabling a command has no effect on calling it as a function from Lisp programs.