[ prin-suh-puhl ]
/ ˈprɪn sə pəl /
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.
Words nearby principle
Idioms for 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.
in principle, in essence or substance; fundamentally: to accept a plan in principle.
Origin of principle
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH principleprincipal principle (see usage note at principal) (see synonym study at the current entry)
synonym study for principle
1–3. Principle, canon, rule imply something established as a standard or test, for measuring, regulating, or guiding conduct or practice. A principle is a general and fundamental truth that may be used in deciding conduct or choice: to adhere to principle. Canon, originally referring to an edict of the Church (a meaning that it still retains), is used of any principle, law, or critical standard that is officially approved, particularly in aesthetics and scholarship: canons of literary criticism. A rule, usually something adopted or enacted, is often the specific application of a principle: the golden rule.
usage note for principle
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
British Dictionary definitions for in principle (1 of 2)
/ (ˈprɪnsɪpəl) /
Christian Science another word for God
British Dictionary definitions for in principle (2 of 2)
/ (ˈprɪnsɪpəl) /
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 for principle
C14: from Latin principium beginning, basic tenet
usage for principle
Principle and principal are often confused: the principal (not principle) reason for his departure; the plan was approved in principle (not in principal)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Medical definitions for in principle
[ prĭn′sə-pəl ]
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.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Idioms and Phrases with in principle (1 of 2)
Fundamentally, in general, but not necessarily in all particulars. For example, The diplomats accepted the idea in principle but would rely on experts to work out all the details. [Early 1800s]
Idioms and Phrases with in principle (2 of 2)
see in principle; on principle.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.