—principalship, n./prin"seuh peuhl/, adj.1. first or highest in rank, importance, value, etc.; chief; foremost.2. of, of the nature of, or constituting principal or capital: a principal investment.3. Geom. (of an axis of a conic) passing through the foci.n.4. a chief or head.5. the head or director of a school or, esp. in England, a college.6. a person who takes a leading part in any activity, as a play; chief actor or doer.7. the first player of a division of instruments in an orchestra (excepting the leader of the first violins).8. something of principal or chief importance.9. Law.a. a person who authorizes another, as an agent, to represent him or her.b. a person directly responsible for a crime, either as an actual perpetrator or as an abettor present at its commission. Cf. accessory (def. 3).10. a person primarily liable for an obligation, in contrast with an endorser, or the like.11. the main body of an estate, or the like, as distinguished from income.12. Finance. a capital sum, as distinguished from interest or profit.13. Music.a. an organ stop.b. the subject of a fugue.14. (in a framed structure) a member, as a truss, upon which adjacent or similar members depend for support or reinforcement.15. each of the combatants in a duel, as distinguished from the seconds.Syn. 1. prime, paramount, leading, main, cardinal, preeminent. See capital1. 4. leader. 5. headmaster, dean, master.Ant. 1. secondary, ancillary.Usage. The noun PRINCIPLE and the noun and adjective PRINCIPAL are often confused. Although pronounced alike, the words are not interchangeable in writing. A PRINCIPLE is broadly "a rule of action or conduct" (His overriding principle is greed) or "a fundamental doctrine or tenet" (Their principles do not permit the use of alcoholic beverages).The adjective PRINCIPAL has the general sense "chief, first, foremost": My principal objection is the cost of the project. The noun PRINCIPAL has among other meanings "the head or director of a school" (The faculty supported the principal in her negotiations with the board) and "a capital sum, as distinguished from interest or profit" (The monthly payments go mostly for interest, leaving the principal practically untouched).
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