WordPress is set to Dutch language. When I use get_the_archive_title() my theme correctly outputs "Categorie: Category-name" on a category archive page. However I'd like that to read "Sectie: Category-name".

I do not want to change the Dutch language file in the wp-content/languages folder, because that will be updated by WordPress updates.

I tried copying that translation file, altering the "category" translation and putting the new nl_NL.mo file into my-theme/languages. This did not have any effect.

How can I achieve a different translation for some strings without altering the core translation files?

3 Answers 3


You could use gettext filter:

add_filter( 'gettext', 'cyb_filter_gettext', 10, 3 );
function cyb_filter_gettext( $translated, $original, $domain ) {

    // Use the text string exactly as it is in the translation file
    if ( $translated == "Categorie: %s" ) {
        $translated = "Sectie: %s";

    return $translated;

If you need to filter a translation with context, use gettext_with_context filter:

add_filter( 'gettext_with_context', 'cyb_filter_gettext_with_context', 10, 4 );
function cyb_filter_gettext_with_context( $translated, $original, $context, $domain ) {

    // Use the text string exactly as it is in the translation file
    if ( $translated == "Categorie: %s" ) {
        $translated = "Sectie: %s";

    return $translated;

A translation with context means that a context is given in the gettext function used to translate the string. For example, this is without context:

$translated = __( 'Search', 'textdomain' );

And this is with context:

$translated = _x( 'Search', 'form placeholder', 'textdomain' );

Similar filters are available for plural translations ([_n()][2] and [_nx()][2]): ngettext and ngettext_with_context.

  • 1
    That worked! I had to do "Categorie: %s" and "Sectie: %s" because the text has to be exactly as in the translation file.
    – Florian
    May 14, 2015 at 14:05
  • Oh, yes, that is correct. I didn't know the exact text to translate.
    – cybmeta
    May 14, 2015 at 14:51
  • 1
    Great piece of code – just be aware that the gettext filter won’t catch translations that use a "context" string, those will need gettext_with_context.
    – Manu
    May 24, 2016 at 10:44
  • Thanks for this great solution. As I am building a child theme and willing to override some of the parent theme's translations, I substituted the proposed function body with the following line return $domain != 'child-domain' && ( $new = __( $original, 'child-domain' ) ) != $original ? $new : $translated;. In this way, I can housekeep the overriding translations in the child theme's PO file instead of having them cabled in the function code.
    – Franco
    Jun 17, 2018 at 12:53
  • Thanks cybmeta! I used this technique to change core text with a plugin I published in the repo. I credited this post in the code. wordpress.org/plugins/…
    – John Dee
    Jan 8, 2019 at 10:49

I was about to use the "add_filter( 'gettext'..." solution suggested above but then read at https://developer.wordpress.org/reference/hooks/gettext/ that this solution can have quite a negative performance impact. I suggest to therefore go with alternative solutions where possible. In my case I can copy a theme template file to my child theme and edit the string in the template file. This can be a great solution but it of course doesn't help for strings that don't appear in template files.

PS: I meant to add this as a comment but unfortunately I'm not allowed to do so yet.


It's also possible to use get_the_archive_title filter in your functions.php:

function archive_title_modify( $title ) {
    return str_replace('Categorie: ', 'Sectie: ', $title);
add_filter('get_the_archive_title', 'archive_title_modify');

The advantage is that it's called only once per page, instead on every translated string as with gettext filter.

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