Is there any way to get only parent terms from custom taxonomy or category?


Yes, just pass in the parent parameter to get_terms when you call it, as Michael pointed out.

Since WP 4.5 this is the recommend usage:

$myterms = get_terms( array( 'taxonomy' => 'taxonomy_name', 'parent' => 0 ) );

Prior to WP 4.5 this was the default usage:

$myterms = get_terms( 'taxonomy_name_here', array( 'parent' => 0 ) );

Will return all terms that have a parent value of 0, ie. top level terms.

  • It returns empty array for custom taxonomies :(
    – Mamaduka
    Aug 2 '11 at 13:14
  • 1
    Are the terms in that taxonomy associated with a post(or custom type)? If not, you'll need to pass along the hide_empty parameter, setting that to 0 also, so you're able to see terms currently not used.
    – t31os
    Aug 2 '11 at 13:25
  • Note that this will only get parent level 1 , the "mother" term. To retrieve all ancestors, use get_ancestors(TERM_ID, TAXONOMY, 'taxonomy') developer.wordpress.org/reference/functions/get_ancestors
    – jave.web
    Apr 13 '17 at 6:07

use the 'parent' parameter:





for woocommerce email templates use the following:

$terms = get_the_terms( $_product->id , 'product_cat');
    if($terms) {
        foreach( $terms as $term ) {
            $term = get_term_by("id", $term->parent, "product_cat");
            if ($term->parent > 0) {
                $term = get_term_by("id", $term->parent, "product_cat");
            $cat_obj = get_term($term->term_id, 'product_cat');
            $cat_name = $cat_obj->name;
echo '<br />('. $cat_name . ')';
  • 5
    please add some explanation, on how your code could solve the question. OP didn't make a question about woocommerce email templates.
    – iEmanuele
    Sep 2 '13 at 14:34
 $archive_cats= get_terms( 'archivecat', 'orderby=count&hide_empty=0&parent=0' );
  • 3
    How is this different than the (already accepted) answer proposed more than two years ago?
    – tfrommen
    Oct 24 '13 at 8:31
  • did you see comments on the (already accepted) answer ? if no more answers are not useful why the question still opened ?! Nov 12 '13 at 13:42
  • There was a single query with regard to terms not showing up, that was unrelated to the original question, i addressed that issue in a reply comment(as it had no bearing on the validity or correctness of the answer already provided).
    – t31os
    Jan 28 '14 at 13:48
  • 1
    Please address that in an edit. Explain your code.
    – kaiser
    Feb 3 '14 at 22:19

For this demonstration, we will assume that we have a taxonomy called "Books". And we might have a hierarchy of:

Fiction (id: 699)
 - This is a Fiction Story.
 - Title of Non-fiction
  -  ...

We want to get the parent term of the taxonomy "Books" of the current post.

/* Get the Parent Taxonomy Term Name by post Id */

function get_parent_term_by_post_id($taxname, $taxid=null){


    //Get by term Id passed in function
    $parent_tax = get_term_by('id', $taxid, $taxname);

    return $parent_tax ->name; //use name, slug, or id


     //Get by PostId of current page
     $terms = wp_get_post_terms( get_the_id(), $taxname);

     $tax_parent_id = $terms[0]->parent;

     if($tax_parent_id == 0):
      $tax_parent_id = $terms[0]->parent; //get the next parent ID

     $parent_tax = get_term_by('id', $tax_parent_id , $taxname);

     return $parent_tax ->name; //use name, slug, or id



Then you just run on you template like this:

//enter custom tax name. will grab by post id 
echo get_parent_term_name_by_post_id('books'); //returns Fiction


//by term ID 
echo get_parent_term_name_by_post_id('books', 699); //returns Fiction

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