- first or highest in rank, importance, value, etc.; chief; foremost.
- of, of the nature of, or constituting principal or capital: a principal investment.
- Geometry. (of an axis of a conic) passing through the foci.
- a chief or head.
- the head or director of a school or, especially in England, a college.
- a person who takes a leading part in any activity, as a play; chief actor or doer.
- the first player of a division of instruments in an orchestra (excepting the leader of the first violins).
- something of principal or chief importance.
- a person who authorizes another, as an agent, to represent him or her.
- a person directly responsible for a crime, either as an actual perpetrator or as an abettor present at its commission.Compare accessory(def 3).
- a person primarily liable for an obligation, in contrast with an endorser, or the like.
- the main body of an estate, or the like, as distinguished from income.
- Finance. a capital sum, as distinguished from interest or profit.
- an organ stop.
- the subject of a fugue.
- (in a framed structure) a member, as a truss, upon which adjacent or similar members depend for support or reinforcement.
- each of the combatants in a duel, as distinguished from the seconds.
Origin of principal
SynonymsSee more synonyms for principal on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for principal
The leak suggests that Mr. Obama remains blind to the principal cause of his foreign policy woes.Before Ditching His Top Aides, Obama Should Look in the Mirror
Leslie H. Gelb
November 2, 2014
But younger members of the community who encountered the man as a principal had a different tale to tell.
He recalled one event, when he was playing with a friend, Areah, when the principal came outside and found them.
In an ultra-Orthodox enclave of upstate New York, a former student has accused a principal of sex acts.
While abuse of a sexual nature is new for the principal, accusations of physical abuse have long dogged the school.
He is far below Halbert in position, and that is the principal thing.Brave and Bold
And let our principal and most trusty friends named in my last know that I do.Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)
The Marquis made a round of the principal of those mansions.
The principal officials had assembled in Westminster Hall at 10 o'clock.
The principal toast, proposed by Mr. Gladstone, was the Queen.
- first in importance, rank, value, etc; chief
- denoting or relating to capital or property as opposed to interest, etc
- a person who is first in importance or directs some event, action, organization, etc
- (in Britain) a civil servant of an executive grade who is in charge of a section
- a person who engages another to act as his agent
- an active participant in a crime
- the person primarily liable to fulfil an obligation
- the head of a school or other educational institution
- (in Scottish schools) a head of department
- capital or property, as contrasted with the income derived from it
- the original amount of a debt on which interest is calculated
- a main roof truss or rafter
- the chief instrumentalist in a section of the orchestra
- one of the singers in an opera company
- either of two types of open diapason organ stops, one of four-foot length and pitch and the other of eight-foot length and pitch
- the leading performer in a play
Word Origin and History for principal
c.1300, "main, principal, chief, dominant, most important;" also "great, large," from Old French principal "main, most important," of persons, "princely, high-ranking" (11c.), from Latin principalis "first in importance; original, primitive," from princeps (see prince).
c.1300, "ruler, governor;" also "main part;" from principal (adj.) or from or influenced by noun uses in Old French and Latin. From mid-14c. in the sense of "money on which interest is paid;" 1827 as "person in charge of a public school," though meaning "head of a college or hall" was in English from mid-15c.
The original amount of money lent, not including profits and interest.