Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of principle
Meaning of principle by Wiktionary Dictionary



    From Old French principe, from Latin principium ( “beginning, foundation” ), from princeps ( “first” ); see prince .


    • IPA: /ˈprɪnsɪpəl/, /ˈprɪnsəpəl/
    • Hyphenation: prin‧ci‧ple
    • Homophone: principal


    principle ( plural: principles )

    1. A fundamental assumption.
      We need some sort of principles to reason from .
    2. A rule used to choose among solutions to a problem .
      The principle of least privilege holds that a process should only receive the permissions it needs .
    3. ( usually plural: ) Moral rule or aspect .
      I don't doubt your principles; you are clearly a person of principle .
      It's the principle of the thing; I won't do business with someone I can't trust .
    4. ( physics ) A rule or law of nature, or the basic idea on how the laws of nature are applied .
      Bernoulli's principle
      The Pauli Exclusion Principle prevents two fermions from occupying the same state .
      The principle of the internal combustion engine
    5. A fundamental essence, particularly one producing a given quality .
      Many believe that life is the result of some vital principle .
      Cathartine is the bitter, purgative principle of senna. — Gregory .
    6. ( obsolete ) A beginning .
      Doubting sad end of principle unsound. — Spenser .


    External links

    • principle in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
    • principle in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911

Explanation of principle by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. an explanation of the fundamental reasons ( especially an explanation of the working of some device in terms of laws of nature )

    2. the principles of internal-combustion engines
    3. a basic truth or law or assumption

    4. the principles of democracy
    5. a rule or law concerning a natural phenomenon or the function of a complex system

    6. the principle of the conservation of mass
      the principle of jet propulsion
    7. a basic generalization that is accepted as true and that can be used as a basis for reasoning or conduct

    8. their principles of composition characterized all their works
    9. a rule or standard especially of good behavior

    10. a man of principle
      he will not violate his principles
    11. rule of personal conduct

    Definition of principle by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Principle n. [F. principe, L. principium beginning, foundation, fr. princeps, -cipis. See Prince.]
      1. Beginning; commencement. [Obs.]

      Doubting sad end of principle unsound. Spenser.

      2. A source, or origin; that from which anything proceeds; fundamental substance or energy; primordial substance; ultimate element, or cause.

      The soul of man is an active principle. Tillotson.

      3. An original faculty or endowment.

      Nature in your principles hath set [benignity]. Chaucer.

      Those active principles whose direct and ultimate object is the communication either of enjoyment or suffering. Stewart.

      4. A fundamental truth; a comprehensive law or doctrine, from which others are derived, or on which others are founded; a general truth; an elementary proposition; a maxim; an axiom; a postulate.

      Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection. Heb. vi. 1.

      A good principle, not rightly understood, may prove as hurtful as a bad. Milton.

      5. A settled rule of action; a governing law of conduct; an opinion or belief which exercises a directing influence on the life and behavior; a rule ( usually, a right rule ) of conduct consistently directing one's actions; as, “a person of no principle”.

      All kinds of dishonesty destroy our pretenses to an honest principle of mind. Law.

      6. ( Chem. ) Any original inherent constituent which characterizes a substance, or gives it its essential properties, and which can usually be separated by analysis; -- applied especially to drugs, plant extracts, etc.

      Cathartine is the bitter, purgative principle of senna. Gregory.

      Bitter principle, Principle of contradiction, etc. See under Bitter, Contradiction, etc.

    2. Principle 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.

      Governors should be well principled. L'Estrange.

      Let an enthusiast be principled that he or his teacher is inspired. Locke.