Common Lisp the Language, 2nd Edition

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28.1.8. Meta-objects

The implementation of the Object System manipulates classes, methods, and generic functions. The meta-object protocol specifies a set of generic functions defined by methods on classes; the behavior of those generic functions defines the behavior of the Object System. The instances of the classes on which those methods are defined are called meta-objects. Programming at the meta-object protocol level involves defining new classes of meta-objects along with methods specialized on these classes.