1

principal

play
adjective prin·ci·pal \ˈprin(t)-s(ə-)pəl, -sə-bəl\
Updated on: 26 Jul 2017

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)

principally

play \-sə-p(ə-)lē, -sə-bə-lē, -splē\ adverb

principle vs. 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 in a Sentence

  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.

Recent Examples of principal from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'principal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of principal

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


2

principal

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

Definition of principal

  1. 1 :  a person who has controlling authority or is in a leading position: such asa :  a chief or head man or womanb :  the chief executive officer of an educational institutionc :  one who engages another to act as an agent subject to general control and instruction; specifically :  the person from whom an agent's authority derivesd :  the chief or an actual participant in a crimee :  the person primarily or ultimately liable on a legal obligationf :  a leading performer :  star

  2. 2 :  a matter or thing of primary importance: such asa (1) :  a capital sum earning interest, due as a debt, or used as a fund (2) :  the corpus of an estate, portion, devise, or bequestb :  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

principalship

play \ˈprin(t)-s(ə-)pəl-ˌship, -sə-bəl-\ noun

principle vs. 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 in a Sentence

  1. the new high school principal

  2. One of the principals in the assassination plot has been arrested.

Recent Examples of principal from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'principal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of principal

see 1principal


Financial Definition of PRINCIPAL

principal

What It Is

In finance,  principal refers to the face amount of a debt instrument or an amount of money borrowed.

How It Works

For example, if you borrow $25,000 from XYZ Bank to purchase a car, the principal balance is $25,000. As time goes by and you make payments on the loan, the principal balance goes down.

For bonds, principal generally refers to the bond's face value or the par value. Thus, a bond with a $10,000 face value represents a $10,000 loan to the issuer (i.e., $10,000 of principal). It is usually equal to the amount the bondholder receives on the bond's maturity date.

Why It Matters

Interest oThe definition of principal on InvestingAnswersn any loan, bond or not, typically accrues on the outstanding principal balance. That is, the lower the principal outstanding, the less total interest the lender earns.


PRINCIPAL Defined for English Language Learners

principal

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adjective

Definition of principal for English Language Learners

  • : most important

principal

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noun

Definition of principal for English Language Learners

  • : 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


PRINCIPAL Defined for Kids

1

principal

play
adjective prin·ci·pal \ˈprin-sə-pəl\

Definition of principal for Students

  1. :  highest in rank or importance :  chief My sister had the principal part in the school play.

principally

adverb

2

principal

play
noun prin·ci·pal

Definition of principal for Students

  1. 1 :  the head of a school

  2. 2 :  a leading or most important person or thing

  3. 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.


Law Dictionary

1

principal

play
adjective prin·ci·pal \ˈprin-sə-pəl\

Legal Definition of principal

  1. 1 :  being the main or most important, consequential, or influential their principal place of business the principal obligor

  2. 2 :  of, relating to, or constituting principal or a principal the principal amount of the loan


2

principal

noun prin·ci·pal

Legal Definition of principal

  1. 1 :  a participant in an action or transaction especially having control or authority the principals of a business: as a :  one who engages another to act for him or her subject to his or her general control or instruction :  one from whom an agent derives authority to act — compare fiduciary b :  one who commits a crime or instigates, encourages, or assists another to commit it especially when constructively or actually present — see also accessory 1 principal in the first degree :  a principal under common law who intentionally commits and is actually or constructively present at the commission of a crime principal in the second degree :  a principal under common law who aids, encourages, or commands another to commit a crime and is actually or constructively present when it is committed c :  the person primarily liable on a legal obligation or one who will ultimately bear the burden because of a duty to indemnify another as distinguished from one (as an endorser, surety, or guarantor) who is secondarily liable

  2. 2 :  a capital sum earning interest, due as a debt, or used as a fund shall receive the income from the trust until age 18, and thereafter the principal payments shall be applied first to interest and then to principal; also :  the main body of an estate, devise, or bequest



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