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Middle English, from Middle French principe, principle, from Old French, from Latin principium beginning, from princip-, princeps initiator


b (1) : a rule or code of conduct (2) : habitual devotion to right principles <a man of principle>
c : the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device
b : an ingredient (as a chemical) that exhibits or imparts a characteristic quality
  • 4 capitalized Christian Science : a divine principle : god

— in principle : with respect to fundamentals <prepared to accept the proposition in principle> usage 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.