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void variable problem

From: Haines Brown
Subject: void variable problem
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2011 13:12:07 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.2 (gnu/linux)

I installed synonyms.el, and it depends on access to mthesar.txt. So I
created: /home/haines/mthesaur/mthesaur.txt and in .emacs access it with
the line (setq synonyms-file  /home/haines/mthesaur/mthesaur.txt)

But when emacs loads, I get this error:

  Debugger entered--Lisp error: (void-variable
    (setq synonyms-file /home/haines/mthesaur/mthesaur\.txt)
    eval-buffer(#<buffer  *load*<4>> nil "/home/haines/.emacs" nil t)  ; 
      Reading at buffer position 17897
       "/home/haines/.emacs" nil nil) 

What does the backshash in "mthesaur\.txt" mean?

Haines Brown 

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