Recursive editing occurs when you are allowed to edit text while an editor command is executing. The mode line of the recursively edited buffer is enclosed in square brackets. For example, when using the command Query Replace, the
Ctrl+R option can be used to edit the current instance of the target string (that is, enter a recursive edit). Details of commands used to exit a recursive edit are given below.
Exit Recursive Edit
Exits a level of recursive edit, returning to the original command. An error is signaled if not in a recursive edit.
Abort Recursive Edit
Aborts a level of recursive edit, quitting the unfinished command immediately. An error is signaled if not in a recursive edit.
LispWorks Editor User Guide (Windows version) - 17 Aug 2017