WordPress has a file called pluggable.php which contains a list of functions you can override in your plugin.

The problem I am facing (I am overriding wp_authenticate) is for each blog in my network I try to activate this plugin, I get:

failure, can't re-declare wp_authenticate which was previously declared in pluggable.php

This somewhat defeats the ease of use, I have to comment the function in the plugin file, activate the plugin, un-comment the function for it to work properly.

What is the correct way to do it?
Can't expect users who download plugin to do all that.

I am using 3.5 + multi-site configuration

  • have you wrapped the function in if(!function_exists()) as in the example? show us your code.
    – Milo
    Jan 4, 2013 at 20:05
  • Why do I need to wrap? I want my function to ALWAYS take precedence. Or, do I have towrap it all the time and plugins are loaded first? Jan 4, 2013 at 20:15
  • see my answer below.
    – Milo
    Jan 4, 2013 at 20:21

2 Answers 2


Wrap your function in if( ! function_exists( 'wp_authenticate' ) ) to get rid of the error and successfully activate your plugin:

if( ! function_exists( 'wp_authenticate' ) ){
    function wp_authenticate(){}

This is necessary because in the context of activating a plugin, the function does already exist, only after it is activated will your plugin load first and override the original in pluggable.php. Plugins are activated in a sandbox to capture any fatal errors which may prevent activation and successful recovery to a working state.


But if your plugin needs a function in pluggables.php (like wp_safe_redirect), then you must manually include_once that file. Otherwise, you get an 'call to undefined function' error for a function that is in that pluggables.php file.

I did it this way

    if ( !function_exists('wp_safe_redirect')) {
        require_once (ABSPATH . WPINC . '/pluggable.php');

Replace the function name (in this case 'wp_safe_redirect') with your needed function.

Perhaps this will save someone the several hours I spent trying to figure that error.

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