/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.
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.
[1250-1300; ME < L principalis first, chief, equiv. to princip- (see PRINCE) + -alis -AL1]
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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Universalium. 2010.

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  • principal — principal, ale, aux [ prɛ̃sipal, o ] adj. et n. • 1119; « princier » 1080; lat. principalis « principal, du prince », de princeps I ♦ Adj. 1 ♦ Qui est le plus important, le premier parmi plusieurs. ⇒ 1. capital, essentiel, fondamental, primordial …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • principal — prin·ci·pal 1 / prin sə pəl/ adj 1: being the main or most important, consequential, or influential their principal place of business the principal obligor 2: of, relating to, or constituting principal or a principal the principal amount of the… …   Law dictionary

  • principal — principal, ale 1. (prin si pal, pa l ) adj. 1°   Qui est le plus considérable, en parlant de personnes. Les principaux magistrats. •   Quand on bâtit une maison, quoique les maçons, les charpentiers, les plombiers, les menuisiers travaillent bien …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • principal — Principal, Estre le Principal et plus excellent, Primas partes in re aliqua agere, Principatum tenere. Pansa a esté nostre principal aide et secours, Principem habuimus Pansam. Laquelle chose est la principale et la meilleure, et la plus forte,… …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • Principal — may refer to: Education The head of an educational institution: *Principal (school), head of a primary or secondary school *Principal (university), chief executive of a university **Dean (education), a person with significant authority **Provost… …   Wikipedia

  • principal — PRINCIPÁL, Ă, principali, e, adj. Care are o importanţă deosebită sau cea mai mare importanţă; de căpetenie, de frunte. ♢ (gram.) Propoziţie principală (şi substantivat, f.) = propoziţie independentă dintr o frază, de care depind propoziţiile… …   Dicționar Român

  • Principal — Prin ci*pal, a. [F., from L. principalis. See {Prince}.] 1. Highest in rank, authority, character, importance, or degree; most considerable or important; chief; main; as, the principal officers of a Government; the principal men of a state; the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • principal — (Del lat. principālis). 1. adj. Dicho de una persona o de una cosa: Que tiene el primer lugar en estimación o importancia y se antepone y prefiere a otras. 2. Dicho de una persona: Que es la primera en un negocio o en cuya cabeza está. 3.… …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • principal — principal, principle The spellings are occasionally confused even by the wariest users of English, the usual mistake being to use principle for the adjective principal. Principal is an adjective and noun and essentially means ‘chief’ (my… …   Modern English usage

  • principal — [prin′sə pəl] adj. [OFr < L principalis < princeps: see PRINCE] 1. first in rank, authority, importance, degree, etc. 2. that is or has to do with PRINCIPAL (n. 3) n. 1. a principal person or thing; specif., a) a ch …   English World dictionary

  • Principal — Prin ci*pal, n. 1. A leader, chief, or head; one who takes the lead; one who acts independently, or who has controlling authority or influence; as, the principal of a faction, a school, a firm, etc.; distinguished from a {subordinate}, {abettor} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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