get_categories( string|array $args = '' )

Retrieve list of category objects.

Description Description

If you change the type to ‘link’ in the arguments, then the link categories will be returned instead. Also all categories will be updated to be backward compatible with pre-2.3 plugins and themes.

See also See also

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Parameters Parameters


(string|array) (Optional) Arguments to retrieve categories. See get_terms() for additional options.

  • 'taxonomy'
    (string) Taxonomy to retrieve terms for. In this case, default 'category'.

Default value: ''

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Return Return

(array) List of categories.

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Source Source

File: wp-includes/category.php

function get_categories( $args = '' ) {
	$defaults = array( 'taxonomy' => 'category' );
	$args     = wp_parse_args( $args, $defaults );

	 * Filters the taxonomy used to retrieve terms when calling get_categories().
	 * @since 2.7.0
	 * @param string $taxonomy Taxonomy to retrieve terms from.
	 * @param array  $args     An array of arguments. See get_terms().
	$args['taxonomy'] = apply_filters( 'get_categories_taxonomy', $args['taxonomy'], $args );

	// Back compat
	if ( isset( $args['type'] ) && 'link' == $args['type'] ) {
				/* translators: 1: "type => link", 2: "taxonomy => link_category" */
				__( '%1$s is deprecated. Use %2$s instead.' ),
				'<code>type => link</code>',
				'<code>taxonomy => link_category</code>'
		$args['taxonomy'] = 'link_category';

	$categories = get_terms( $args );

	if ( is_wp_error( $categories ) ) {
		$categories = array();
	} else {
		$categories = (array) $categories;
		foreach ( array_keys( $categories ) as $k ) {
			_make_cat_compat( $categories[ $k ] );

	return $categories;

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Changelog Changelog

Version Description
2.1.0 Introduced.

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User Contributed Notes User Contributed Notes

  1. Skip to note 1 content
    Contributed by Codex

    List Categories and Descriptions
    This example will list, in alphabetic order, all categories presented as links to the corresponding category archive. Each category description is listed after the category link.

    $categories = get_categories( array(
    	'orderby' => 'name',
    	'order'   => 'ASC'
    ) );
    foreach( $categories as $category ) {
    	$category_link = sprintf( 
    		'<a href="%1$s" alt="%2$s">%3$s</a>',
    		esc_url( get_category_link( $category->term_id ) ),
    		esc_attr( sprintf( __( 'View all posts in %s', 'textdomain' ), $category->name ) ),
    		esc_html( $category->name )
    	echo '<p>' . sprintf( esc_html__( 'Category: %s', 'textdomain' ), $category_link ) . '</p> ';
    	echo '<p>' . sprintf( esc_html__( 'Description: %s', 'textdomain' ), $category->description ) . '</p>';
    	echo '<p>' . sprintf( esc_html__( 'Post Count: %s', 'textdomain' ), $category->count ) . '</p>';
  2. Skip to note 2 content
    Contributed by Codex

    Get only top level categories
    To get the top level categories only, set parent value to zero. This example gets link and name of top level categories.

    $categories = get_categories( array(
    	'orderby' => 'name',
    	'parent'  => 0
    ) );
    foreach ( $categories as $category ) {
    	printf( '<a href="%1$s">%2$s</a><br />',
    		esc_url( get_category_link( $category->term_id ) ),
    		esc_html( $category->name )
  3. Skip to note 4 content
    Contributed by sleekdevigner

    Function only returns categories in use by posts

    It is very important to note that by default, the get_category() will ONLY return categories that ARE IN USE. This means if no post is assigned to the category, then the category object for that category is not returned.

    This means if you are developer, and you created a category (maybe during testing), you should supply an argument array having the 'hide_empty' => false in it. Check the example usage below.

    		$args = array(
    			'hide_empty'      => false,
    		get_categories($args); //This returns both used and unused categories
  4. Skip to note 5 content
    Contributed by Codex

    Drop-down box as used in Parent category at post category page
    This is the code used in the built-in category page.

    wp_dropdown_categories( array(
    	'hide_empty'       => 0,
    	'name'             => 'category_parent',
    	'orderby'          => 'name',
    	'selected'         => $category->parent,
    	'hierarchical'     => true,
    	'show_option_none' => __('None')
    ) );

    The slightly altered code below will grab all categories and display them with indent for a new level (child category). The select box will have name and id attribute values of ‘select_name’. This select element will not display a default “none” as the original code was used to attach a category as a child to another category (or none).

    wp_dropdown_categories( array(
    	'hide_empty'   => 0,
    	'name'         => 'select_name',
    	'id'           => 'select_name',
    	'hierarchical' => true
    ) );
  5. Skip to note 6 content
    Contributed by Codex

    Drop-down Box
    Here’s how to create a drop-down box of the subcategories of, say, a category that archives information on past events.
    This mirrors the example of the drop-down example of wp_get_archives() which shows how to create a drop-down box for monthly archives.

    Suppose the category whose subcategories you want to show is category 10, and that its category “nicename” is “archives”.

    <select name="event-dropdown"> 
    	<option value=""><?php echo esc_attr_e( 'Select Event', 'textdomain' ); ?></option> 
    	$categories = get_categories( array( 'child_of' => 10 ) ); 
    	foreach ( $categories as $category ) {
    		printf( '<option value="%1$s">%2$s (%3$s)</option>',
    			esc_attr( '/category/archives/' . $category->category_nicename ),
    			esc_html( $category->cat_name ),
    			esc_html( $category->category_count )

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