Confusing WordPress jargon is confusing.

WordPress jargon - those words don't mean what you think they mean



Oh my God. Blog. This poor abused word.

First of all. This piece of writing? This article titled “Confusing WordPress jargon”? This is a BLOG POST. It is not a blog. Yes, this makes me all shouty. It drives me crazy when people refer to a blog post as a blog.

The web site of which this blog post is a part is a blog. A blog is a collection of blog posts. It’s a web site on which blog posts are collected. This blog / blog post issue is not specific to WordPress but I just had to get that out of the way. Oh, and blog is a shortened portmanteau of the phrase “web log”, as long as we’re discussing terminology.

When WordPress began its life, it was blogging software. It was designed (inasmuch as it was designed) to allow self-publishing of serial content with a date-based push-down stack of articles as the main content, and automatically generated date-based archives.

Over time its capabilities grew, and now it can do much more than publish posts and generate archives. Now WordPress can be used to create many kinds of web sites, not just blogging sites.

But the word blog is stuck into the core code as the label for a site. So when you’re talking about a blog in WordPress lingo – you’re actually talking about a site, which may or may not be a blogging site.


There isn’t really such a thing as a site in the core code. Where this gets confusing is when you start using WordPress Multisite capabilities. Multisite is actually named correctly, it allows you to create multiple WordPress sites.

Except of course that in WordPress lingo, those sites are actually called blogs. A HAHA HAHAHA HA welcome to WordPress! Try to have that conversation with a co-worker!  “So each of the sites will have the XYZ plugin enabled if we do it from the network menu…” “Wait, sites? Do you mean blogs?” “Yes, blogs. Sites. Whatever.”

And the super fun thing is that Multisite was originally called Multiuser or MU for short. You still see plenty of references to WP MU hanging around.


Metabox is the original reason I decided to write this post. If I can save one person even a little bit of the confusion I experienced while trying to suss out what the hell a metabox is, it will be worth the effort of writing this.

I am not sure I ever found an actual definition (add_meta_box() reference is suuuper not helpful in this regard, it says this function lets you add a metabox! Cool, what the hell is a metabox??).

So by inference what I have decided, and I may be wrong since there’s no obvious reference on this, is that a metabox is a form field, or possibly a fieldset.

If you come to WordPress as a web developer you probably know what a form field is because it’s really the only way you can do any CRUD operations on the web. Forms are web developer 101.

Since I am actually writing this out I decided to see, again, if there’s an actual definition out there that I missed. I still don’t find an obvious one but I think the ‘meta’ in ‘metabox’ refers to the ability to capture post meta data, which makes a kind of sense but is still not particularly friendly to anyone not immersed in WordPress jargon. I also think that “metaboxes” are probably used for more than capturing meta information these days. Another example of WordPress growing organically and the terminology never catching up.


Post has two meanings in WordPress.

It has a generic meaning – it is any type of entry of content into the system other than ‘meta’ content about a post.

It is also a type of post. Yes, post is a post type. Other post types include pages, attachments, revisions, and navigation menus. (In this case the Codex is actually very helpful and clear.) Additionally, developers can create custom post types.

Again, WordPress grew organically to have multiple post types and the terminology was never revised to make things more logical and clear and… modern. I sense a pattern.

2 thoughts on “Confusing WordPress jargon is confusing.

  1. yes.

    When combined with an obsessive fixation on backwards compatibility, some of these terms live on forever because we can’t kill them, because that’ll confuse errybody.

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