prin|ci|ple [ `prınsəpl ] noun ***
1. ) count a basic belief, theory, or rule that has a major influence on the way in which something is done:
Excellent customer service should be our guiding principle.
principle of: It is a basic principle of English law that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
principle that: the principle that education should be free to everyone
a ) often plural one of the major ideas or theories that a system of beliefs is based on, for example in religion or politics:
Marxist/Buddhist/democratic principles
the principles and ideals that the party stands for
2. ) count usually plural a basic rule or belief about what is right and morally good, that influences the way you behave and the way you treat other people:
He seems to have absolutely no principles.
against someone's principles: It was against their principles to join the military.
stick to/stand by your principles: Bennett stuck to his principles, and refused to name the source of his information.
a ) uncount morally correct behavior:
a woman of principle
on principle: We are opposed on principle to any collaboration with terrorists.
a point/matter/issue of principle: There are some basic issues of principle relating to the debate about abortion.
3. ) count a scientific theory or basic natural law that explains the way in which something works:
Windmills differ in design, but all operate on exactly the same principle.
Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle
principle of: It was Darwin who first identified the principle of female choice.
in principle
1. ) used for saying that something is possible in theory, although it has not yet been tried:
In principle, there is no reason why the same cloning techniques should not work on human cells.
2. ) used for saying that you agree/disagree with something as a result of your moral, religious, or political beliefs:
We're opposed in principle to any form of capital punishment.

Usage of the words and phrases in modern English. 2013.


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  • principle — prin‧ci‧ple [ˈprɪnspl] noun 1. [countable, uncountable] a moral rule or set of ideas that makes you behave in a particular way: • The single European market works on market principles. • As a matter of principle (= a rule that is very important …   Financial and business terms

  • principle — principle, axiom, fundamental, law, theorem are comparable when they denote a proposition or other formulation stating a fact or a generalization accepted as true and basic. Principle applies to a generalization that provides a basis for… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Principle — Prin ci*ple, n. [F. principe, L. principium beginning, foundation, fr. princeps, cipis. See {Prince}.] 1. Beginning; commencement. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Doubting sad end of principle unsound. Spenser. [1913 Webster] 2. A source, or origin; that… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • principle — I (axiom) noun accepted belief, adage, admitted maxim, article of belief, article of faith, assertion, assurance, basic doctrine, basic law, basic rule, basic truth, belief, canon, conviction, credo, declaration of faith, decretum, doctrine,… …   Law dictionary

  • principle — [prin′sə pəl] n. [ME, altered < MFr principe < L principium: see PRINCIPIUM] 1. the ultimate source, origin, or cause of something 2. a natural or original tendency, faculty, or endowment 3. a fundamental truth, law, doctrine, or motivating …   English World dictionary

  • principle — ► NOUN 1) a fundamental truth or proposition serving as the foundation for belief or action. 2) a rule or belief governing one s personal behaviour. 3) morally correct behaviour and attitudes. 4) a general scientific theorem or natural law. 5) a… …   English terms dictionary

  • principle — late 14c., fundamental truth or proposition, from Anglo Fr. principle, O.Fr. principe, from L. principium (plural principia) a beginning, first part, from princeps (see PRINCE (Cf. prince)). Meaning origin, source is attested from early 15c.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • principle — [n1] law, standard assumption, axiom, basis, canon, convention, criterion, dictum, doctrine, dogma, ethic, form, formula, foundation, fundamental, golden rule*, ground, maxim, origin, postulate, precept, prescript, principium, proposition,… …   New thesaurus

  • Principle — Prin ci*ple, 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. [1913 Webster] Governors should be… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • principle — /prin seuh peuhl/, n. 1. an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct: a person of good moral principles. 2. a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived: the principles of modern physics. 3. a fundamental… …   Universalium

  • principle — noun 1 basic general rule ADJECTIVE ▪ basic, broad, central, fundamental, general, underlying ▪ the basic principles of car maintenance ▪ b …   Collocations dictionary