noun Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French principe, principle, from Old French, from Latin principium beginning, from princip-, princeps initiator — more at prince Date: 14th century 1. a. a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption b. (1) a rule or code of conduct (2) habitual devotion to right principles <
a man of principle
c. the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device 2. a primary source ; origin 3. a. an underlying faculty or endowment <
such principles of human nature as greed and curiosity
b. an ingredient (as a chemical) that exhibits or imparts a characteristic quality 4. capitalized, Christian Science a divine principle ; god Usage: Although nearly every handbook and many dictionaries warn against confusing principle and principal, many people still do. Principle is only a noun; principal is both adjective and noun. If you are unsure which noun you want, read the definitions in this dictionary.

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • principle — prin‧ci‧ple [ˈprɪnspl] noun 1. [countable, uncountable] a moral rule or set of ideas that makes you behave in a particular way: • The single European market works on market principles. • As a matter of principle (= a rule that is very important …   Financial and business terms

  • principle — principle, axiom, fundamental, law, theorem are comparable when they denote a proposition or other formulation stating a fact or a generalization accepted as true and basic. Principle applies to a generalization that provides a basis for… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Principle — Prin ci*ple, n. [F. principe, L. principium beginning, foundation, fr. princeps, cipis. See {Prince}.] 1. Beginning; commencement. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Doubting sad end of principle unsound. Spenser. [1913 Webster] 2. A source, or origin; that… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • principle — I (axiom) noun accepted belief, adage, admitted maxim, article of belief, article of faith, assertion, assurance, basic doctrine, basic law, basic rule, basic truth, belief, canon, conviction, credo, declaration of faith, decretum, doctrine,… …   Law dictionary

  • principle — [prin′sə pəl] n. [ME, altered < MFr principe < L principium: see PRINCIPIUM] 1. the ultimate source, origin, or cause of something 2. a natural or original tendency, faculty, or endowment 3. a fundamental truth, law, doctrine, or motivating …   English World dictionary

  • principle — ► NOUN 1) a fundamental truth or proposition serving as the foundation for belief or action. 2) a rule or belief governing one s personal behaviour. 3) morally correct behaviour and attitudes. 4) a general scientific theorem or natural law. 5) a… …   English terms dictionary

  • principle — late 14c., fundamental truth or proposition, from Anglo Fr. principle, O.Fr. principe, from L. principium (plural principia) a beginning, first part, from princeps (see PRINCE (Cf. prince)). Meaning origin, source is attested from early 15c.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • principle — [n1] law, standard assumption, axiom, basis, canon, convention, criterion, dictum, doctrine, dogma, ethic, form, formula, foundation, fundamental, golden rule*, ground, maxim, origin, postulate, precept, prescript, principium, proposition,… …   New thesaurus

  • Principle — Prin ci*ple, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Principled}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Principling}.] To equip with principles; to establish, or fix, in certain principles; to impress with any tenet, or rule of conduct, good or ill. [1913 Webster] Governors should be… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • principle — /prin seuh peuhl/, n. 1. an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct: a person of good moral principles. 2. a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived: the principles of modern physics. 3. a fundamental… …   Universalium

  • principle — noun 1 basic general rule ADJECTIVE ▪ basic, broad, central, fundamental, general, underlying ▪ the basic principles of car maintenance ▪ b …   Collocations dictionary

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