- 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
Examples from the Web for principle
But the qualities Mario Cuomo brought to public life—compassion, integrity, commitment to principle—remain in short supply today.
Nixon said defending the two islands was “a matter of principle.”
If the noble experiment of American democracy is to mean anything, it is fidelity to the principle of freedom.The Sony Hack and America’s Craven Capitulation To Terror|David Keyes|December 19, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Let the record show that espousing principles is common; acting on principle is rare.
The principle that outsiders should be welcomed and provided for was a cross-cultural theme in ancient cultures.Pope Bids Refugees to EU ‘Bienvenido’; Europe Says ‘Non’|Candida Moss|November 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The Maoris themselves have observed this fact and applied the principle to their own obvious fate.Influences of Geographic Environment|Ellen Churchill Semple
The Central Authority in 1907 applies this principle unreservedly to one class only, the wayfarers or vagrants.English Poor Law Policy|Sidney Webb
The church of Rome has acted upon this principle, and even Protestants (to the shame of Protestantism) have followed her example.Notes on the Book of Deuteronomy, Volume II|Charles Henry Mackintosh
None of the men like him—except Freddy Lancaster, of course; he likes everybody, on principle; he doesn't count.The Landlord at Lion's Head, Complete|William Dean Howells
It is the principle of individualism, competition, each one for himself and against all the rest.Socialism|John Stuart Mill
British Dictionary definitions for principle (1 of 2)
Word Origin for principle
British Dictionary definitions for principle (2 of 2)
Word Origin and History for principle
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.
Medicine definitions for principle
Idioms and Phrases with principle
see in principle; on principle.