Dictionary

1principal

adjective prin·ci·pal \ˈprin(t)-s(ə-)pəl, -sə-bəl\

: most important

Full Definition of PRINCIPAL

1
:  most important, consequential, or influential :  chief <the principal ingredient> <the region's principal city>
2
:  of, relating to, or constituting principal or a principal(see 2principal)
prin·ci·pal·ly \-sə-p(ə-)lē, -sə-bə-lē, -splē\ adverb

Usage Discussion of PRINCIPAL

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.
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Examples of PRINCIPAL

  1. Vegetables are the principal ingredients in this soup.
  2. She is the principal cellist of the orchestra.
  3. If any suspect that Griswold was exaggerating, they should reflect on the fact that the principal Supreme Court case justifying the invocation of the national security privilege was based on a governmental lie. —Garry Wills, New York Review of Books, 12 Feb. 2009

Origin of PRINCIPAL

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin principalis, from princip-, princeps
First Known Use: 14th century

2principal

noun prin·ci·pal \ˈprin(t)-s(ə-)pəl, -sə-bəl\

: the person in charge of a public school

: the person in charge of a university or college

: an amount of money that is put in a bank or lent to someone and that can earn interest

Full Definition of PRINCIPAL

1
:  a person who has controlling authority or is in a leading position: as
a :  a chief or head man or woman
b :  the chief executive officer of an educational institution
c :  one who engages another to act as an agent subject to general control and instruction; specifically :  the person from whom an agent's authority derives
d :  the chief or an actual participant in a crime
e :  the person primarily or ultimately liable on a legal obligation
f :  a leading performer :  star
2
:  a matter or thing of primary importance: as
a (1) :  a capital sum earning interest, due as a debt, or used as a fund
(2) :  the corpus of an estate, portion, devise, or bequest
b :  the construction that gives shape and strength to a roof and is usually one of several trusses; broadly :  the most important member of a piece of framing
prin·ci·pal·ship \ˈprin(t)-s(ə-)pəl-ˌship, -sə-bəl-\ noun

Usage Discussion of PRINCIPAL

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.

Examples of PRINCIPAL

  1. the new high school principal
  2. One of the principals in the assassination plot has been arrested.

Origin of PRINCIPAL

(see 1principal)
First Known Use: 14th century

Related to PRINCIPAL

Other Education Terms

baccalaureate, colloquium, corequisite, dissertation, monograph, pedant, practicum, survey course, thesis
PRINCIPAL Defined for Kids

1principal

adjective prin·ci·pal \ˈprin-sə-pəl\

Definition of PRINCIPAL for Kids

:  highest in rank or importance :  chief <My sister had the principal part in the school play.>
prin·ci·pal·ly adverb

2principal

noun

Definition of PRINCIPAL for Kids

1
:  the head of a school
2
:  a leading or most important person or thing
3
:  a sum of money that is placed to earn interest, is owed as a debt, or is used as a fund

Headscratcher for PRINCIPAL

Principal and principle sound the same but have different spellings and different meanings. A principle is a basic truth or theory that people base other ideas on, as in science. A principal is the head of a school. A commonly used way of remembering the spelling is by remembering that the principal is your pal.
July 29, 2015
indomitable Hear it
incapable of being subdued or conquered
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