- an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct: a person of good moral principles.
- a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived: the principles of modern physics.
- a fundamental doctrine or tenet; a distinctive ruling opinion: the principles of the Stoics.
- principles, a personal or specific basis of conduct or management: to adhere to one's principles; a kindergarten run on modern principles.
- guiding sense of the requirements and obligations of right conduct: a person of principle.
- an adopted rule or method for application in action: a working principle for general use.
- a rule or law exemplified in natural phenomena, the construction or operation of a machine, the working of a system, or the like: the principle of capillary attraction.
- the method of formation, operation, or procedure exhibited in a given case: a community organized on the patriarchal principle.
- a determining characteristic of something; essential quality.
- an originating or actuating agency or force: growth is the principle of life.
- an actuating agency in the mind or character, as an instinct, faculty, or natural tendency: the principles of human behavior.
- Chemistry. a constituent of a substance, especially one giving to it some distinctive quality or effect.
- Obsolete. beginning or commencement.
- in principle, in essence or substance; fundamentally: to accept a plan in principle.
- on principle,
- according to personal rules for right conduct; as a matter of moral principle: He refused on principle to agree to the terms of the treaty.
- according to a fixed rule, method, or practice: He drank hot milk every night on principle.
Origin of principle
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for principles
But Cosby Truthers are applying their principles to the wrong cause.Phylicia Rashad and the Cult of Cosby Truthers
January 8, 2015
The legal jungle must be bulldozed, and replaced by radically simpler framework of goals and principles.Red Tape Is Strangling Good Samaritans
Philip K. Howard
December 27, 2014
Or bold stands that may not preserve our security today or tomorrow, but keep our principles safely intact?Should the U.S. Really Pay a Kim’s Ransom?
December 21, 2014
Her new memoir looks back at her life lived by the principles of punk.A First Lady of Punk Rock Talks
December 9, 2014
Instead, Booker is trying to do a better job of living out the principles he already has.Talking Tofurky With Newly Vegan Cory Booker
November 26, 2014
Yet he conducted these two vocations on principles diametrically opposite.
On which of his two sets of principles he would manage a wife remained to be proved.
They are not the principles of a province or of a single continent.
They are too deeply rooted in the principles of our national life to be altered.
To attempt it finds no support in the principles of our Constitution.
- Christian Science another word for God
- a standard or rule of personal conducta man of principle
- (often plural) a set of such moral ruleshe'd stoop to anything; he has no principles
- adherence to such a moral code; moralityit's not the money but the principle of the thing; torn between principle and expediency
- a fundamental or general truth or lawfirst principles
- the essence of somethingthe male principle
- a source or fundamental cause; originprinciple of life
- a rule or law concerning a natural phenomenon or the behaviour of a systemthe principle of the conservation of mass
- an underlying or guiding theory or beliefthe hereditary principle; socialist principles
- chem a constituent of a substance that gives the substance its characteristics and behaviourbitter principle
- in principle in theory or essence
- on principle because of or in demonstration of a principle
Word Origin and History for principles
late 14c., "origin, source, beginning; rule of conduct; axiom, basic assumption; elemental aspect of a craft or discipline," from Anglo-French principle, Old French principe "origin, cause, principle," from Latin principium (plural principia) "a beginning, commencement, origin, first part," in plural "foundation, elements," from princeps (see prince). Used absolutely for (good or moral) principle from 1650s.
It is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them. [Adlai Stevenson, speech, New York City, Aug. 27, 1952]
Scientific sense of "general law of nature" is recorded from 1802. The English -l- apparently is by analogy of participle, etc.
- A basic truth, law, or assumption.
- A rule or law concerning the functioning of natural phenomena or mechanical processes.
- One of the elements composing a chemical compound, especially one that gives some special quality or effect.
- The essential ingredient in a drug.