/ˈprɪnsəpəl / (say 'prinsuhpuhl)

1. an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct: a man of good principles.
2. a fundamental, primary, or general truth, on which other truths depend: the principles of government.
3. a fundamental doctrine or tenet; a distinctive ruling opinion: the principles of the Stoics.
4. (plural) right rules of conduct.
5. guiding sense of the requirements and obligations of right conduct: a man of principle.
6. fixed rule or adopted method as to action.
7. a rule or law exemplified in natural phenomena, in the construction or operation of a machine, the working of a system, or the like: the principle of capillary attraction.
8. the method of formation, operation, or procedure exhibited in a given case: a community organised on the principle of one great family.
9. a determining characteristic of something; essential quality of character.
10. an originating or actuating agency or force.
11. an actuating agency in the mind or character, as an instinct, faculty, or natural tendency.
12. Chemistry a constituent of a substance, especially one giving to it some distinctive quality or effect.
13. Obsolete beginning or commencement.
14. in principle,
a. according to the rule generally followed.
b. as an expression of general intentions or beliefs, without consideration of real-life complications: a decision taken in principle.
15. on principle,
a. according to fixed rule, method, or practice: *And just as the bushman liked, on principle, to emphasize his `independence' from his masters, while being sometimes on good terms with the individual squatter, so the digger liked it to be thought that he cared nothing for officers as a class. –russel ward, 1966.
b. according to one's personal rule for right conduct; as a matter of moral principle.
{Middle English, from French principe (from Latin principium) + -le, noun suffix (compare syllable, etc.)
Usage: Principle is commonly confused with principal.

Australian English dictionary. 2014.


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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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