first or highest in rank, importance, value, etc.; chief; foremost: The principal problem is a lack of money.She's the principal advisor on the council.
of, of the nature of, or constituting principal or capital: Though our portfolio has seen losses, the principal investment remains untouched.
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 someone else, such as an agent, to represent them.
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.
- prin·ci·pal·ship, noun
- un·der·prin·ci·pal, noun
- principal , principle (see usage note at the current entry)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use principal in a sentence
The journalists were, quite correctly, writing about the principals in the case: Amanda, Meredith, Raffaele, Rudy Guede.
Libertarian political principles must be applicable to practical politics or what are political principals for?
However, she also closed schools, fired teachers and principals, and opposed the idea of tenure.
They correlate an evaluation of teachers and principals with student performances.
It is up to local superintendents and principals to select curricula that comply with the standards.
Is it necessary to add that, the two principals in the business being well pleased, everybody else was satisfied?The Garret and the Garden | R.M. Ballantyne
I shall send for Mr. Sharp, and she touched the button which rang the bell in the principals office.The Girls of Central High on the Stage | Gertrude W. Morrison
It rose and rose again, at last to display only the principals, down to the final two who had closed the play.The Girls of Central High on the Stage | Gertrude W. Morrison
The production had been very carefully prepared; the principals endeavoured to do their best.The Life & Letters of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky | Modeste Tchaikovsky
As for "little May," she burst into tears, though the principals had shed no tears.A Houseful of Girls | Sarah Tytler
British Dictionary definitions for principal
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
- principalship, noun
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
Cultural definitions for principal
The original amount of money lent, not including profits and interest.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.