Definition of principle
1a : a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumptionb (1) : a rule or code of conduct (2) : habitual devotion to right principles a man of principlec : the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device
2 : a primary source : origin
4 capitalized, Christian Science : a divine principle : god
: with respect to fundamentals prepared to accept the proposition in principle
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 principle in a Sentence
Urban guerrilla warfare was futile against a thermonuclear superstate that would stop at nothing to defend the profit principle. —Philip Roth, American Pastoral, 1997
Better, of course, to take a higher road, operate on the principle of service and see if things don't turn out better … —Richard Ford, Independence Day, 1995
Pointlessness was life's principle, and it spread its sadness. —Arthur Miller, Timebends, 1987
His investment strategy is based on the principle that the stock market offers the best returns for long-term investors.
the basic principles of hydraulics
Recent Examples of principle from the Web
The cause of the recusal flows self-evidently from basic legal principles.
Giannelli Imbula is set to depart the bet365 Stadium after reaching an agreement in principle with Turkish giants Galatasaray over a potential loan move.
There is a competitive but collaborative atmosphere that embodies the core principles of Button.
But blowing off those principles can come at a high price.
That’s not to say that using an organizing principle doesn’t help to give me a way to understand a patient.
Her guiding principle is monotonicity—a relationship between variables in which, all else being equal, increasing one variable directly increases another, as with the square footage of a house and its price.
LIKE SO many relievers, Pat Neshek is a prisoner to his passions and his principles.
Those principles propelled Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal into co-founding and running Warby Parker.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'principle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
PRINCIPLE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of principle for English Language Learners
: a moral rule or belief that helps you know what is right and wrong and that influences your actions
: a basic truth or theory : an idea that forms the basis of something
: a law or fact of nature that explains how something works or why something happens
PRINCIPLE Defined for Kids
Definition of principle for Students
1 : a general or basic truth on which other truths or theories can be based scientific principles
2 : a rule of conduct based on beliefs of what is right and wrong
3 : a law or fact of nature which makes possible the working of a machine or device the principle of magnetism
Medical Definition of principle
1: a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption
2: an ingredient (as a chemical) that exhibits or imparts a characteristic quality the active principle of a drug
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up principle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).