Is there anyway to rename a user role name via hook, instead of using plugin?


For example, administrator » owner

  • Could you elaborate on what you want to achieve? – BjornW Jul 15 '11 at 15:50
  • rename user role name, that's it. for example, administrator -> owner – Sean Lee Jul 15 '11 at 17:46
function change_role_name() {
    global $wp_roles;

    if ( ! isset( $wp_roles ) )
        $wp_roles = new WP_Roles();

    //You can list all currently available roles like this...
    //$roles = $wp_roles->get_names();

    //You can replace "administrator" with any other role "editor", "author", "contributor" or "subscriber"...
    $wp_roles->roles['administrator']['name'] = 'Owner';
    $wp_roles->role_names['administrator'] = 'Owner';           
add_action('init', 'change_role_name');


  • I couldn't get this to work. Regardless of what I do, then it's still called 'Subscribers' in the backend creation process. It looks like that $wp_roles now has a [role_objects] part of it's array. – Zeth Mar 16 '19 at 16:06
  • This did something very strange. It only affected the first letter ("Odministrator")! – Mark Jun 4 '19 at 16:19

Actually, there are many ways to achieve that:

With pure php and mysql you can edit the serialized entry in the db. Indeed, Wordpress stores the serialized array of roles in wp_options table.


  1. Fetch the serialized array:
    SELECT option_value as serialized_string FROM wp_options WHERE option_name = 'wp_user_roles';
  2. Unserialize the string – php: $rolesArray = unserialize($serialized_string)
  3. Change the role name – php: $rolesArray['role_key']['name'] = "New name"
  4. Serialize back the array – php: echo serialize($rolesArray)
  5. Replace the db option_value content with output from the previous point

If you feel confident with Wordpress, you can even use the embedded Wordpress REPL in wp-cli to fetch the stored value with get_option('wp_user_roles') and then use update_option to update it.

And (always) remember to backup the db before options manipulation ;)

Otherwise, if you don’t care about role_key value…

…it’s very easy to achieve that with wp-cli:

  1. duplicate the existing role – $ wp role create new_role 'New Role' --clone=old_role
  2. delete the old one – $ wp role delete old_role
  3. then associate new_role to the user(s).
  4. eventually repeat step 1 and 2 until old_role = new_role

A simple solution would be to just add a user role using add_role, that way you can name it whatever you want and add whatever capabilities you want. http://codex.wordpress.org/Function_Reference/add_role

  • Tried to avoid this, but I guess it's the cleanest way to do without plugin. – Sean Lee Jul 15 '11 at 22:16

If you are using WP version 4.7+ you may accomplish this using the wp_roles_init action like so:

add_action( 'wp_roles_init', static function ( \WP_Roles $roles ) {
    $roles->roles['administrator']['name'] = 'Owner';
    $roles->role_names['administrator'] = 'Owner';
} );

You can create a custom localization file. Get this file: http://svn.automattic.com/wordpress-i18n/pot/trunk/wordpress.pot and edit using PoEdit tool (for example). In next step save localization file as en_GB.mo (or other) and edit wp-config file:

define ("WPLANG", "en_GB");

  • 1
    Already tried this method, but some pull down menus were not translated. – Sean Lee Jul 15 '11 at 22:15

You can edit it directly in your DB, and it will be edited permanently for your website. Here is where WP keeps user roles

SELECT * from blog_options WHERE option_name = 'blog_user_roles'

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