How can I get 5 categories ordered by publish date of it's most recent post?

I basically need 5 most recent categories that were used in recent posts.

1 Answer 1


Okay, seems like this is not supported out of the box. At least I didn't find any arguments you can use for WP_Term_Query (which is the function used behind get_categories()).

So I had the following idea

  1. retrieve all categories
  2. get latest post from each category
  3. save category id & post date in an array
  4. order by post date
  5. return the 5 most recent category ids
function get_most_recent_categories($limit = 5) {
    // retrieve all categories
    $categories = get_categories();
    $recent_posts = array();
    foreach ($categories as $key=>$category) {
        // get latest post from $category
        $args = array(
            'numberposts' => 1,
            'category' => $category->term_id,
        $post = get_posts($args)[0];
        // save category id & post date in an array
        $recent_posts[ $category->term_id ] = strtotime($post->post_date);

    // order by post date, preserve category_id

    // get $limit most recent category ids
    $recent_categories = array_slice(array_keys($recent_posts), 0, $limit);

    return $recent_categories;
  • Thank you this is working fine! But how fast this function will be assuming we have 10, 50, 100 categories?
    – CMTV
    Jul 24, 2017 at 8:56
  • @CMTV I don't know, you'll have to test this. Another possible solution would be to write a custom query. But considering page/query cache, even this one shouldn't hurt performance
    – kero
    Jul 24, 2017 at 9:29

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