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1

principal

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

Simple Definition of principal

  • : most important

Full Definition of principal

  1. 1 :  most important, consequential, or influential :  chief <the principal ingredient> <the region's principal city>

  2. 2 :  of, relating to, or constituting principal or a principal(see 2principal)

prin·ci·pal·ly play \-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.

Examples of principal

  1. 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

  2. Following the agreement, the four principal tobacco companies—Philip Morris, R. J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, and Lorillard—raised their prices more than 45 cents per pack. The costs of the settlement, as predicted, were passed on to consumers. —Allan M. Brandt, The Cigarette Century, 2007

  3. Their principal industry was the manufacture, in a long, low, mostly-wooden, two-story factory, of cold cream. —Frederick Busch, Too Late American Boyhood Blues, 1984

  4. Vegetables are the principal ingredients in this soup.

  5. She is the principal cellist of the orchestra.



Origin of principal

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin principalis, from princip-, princeps


First Known Use: 14th century


2

principal

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

Simple Definition of principal

  • : 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. 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. 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 play \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



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