A school principal talking to a student.
- The definition of principal is the first or highest in importance.
An example of a principal ingredient is flour in bread.
- Principal is someone or something that holds the highest rank, or is a sum of money.
- An example of principal is the person in charge at a school or the head of a research project.
- An example of principal is the amount of money loaned to a business.
- highest or among the highest in rank, authority, importance, degree, etc.
- that is or has to do with principal (noun)
Origin of principalOld French from Classical Latin principalis from princeps: see prince
- a principal person or thing; specif.,
- a chief; head
- a governing or presiding officer, specif. of a school
- a main actor or performer
- either of the combatants in a duel
- any of the main end rafters of a roof, supporting the purlins
- a roof truss
- the amount of a debt, investment, etc. minus the interest, or on which interest is computed
- the face value of a stock or bond
- the main body of an estate, etc., as distinguished from income
- a person who employs another to act as his agent
- the person primarily responsible for an obligation
- a person who commits a crime or is present as an abettor to it
- any of the principal open stops of an organ
- the soloist in a concert
- the first player of any section of orchestral instruments except the first violins
- the subject of a fugue
- First or highest in rank or importance. See Synonyms at chief.
- Of, relating to, or being financial principal, or a principal in a financial transaction.
- a. One who holds a position of presiding rank, especially the head of an elementary school, middle school, or high school.b. A main participant in a situation, especially a financial transaction.c. A person having a leading or starring role in a performance, such as the first player in a section of an orchestra.
- a. An amount of capital originally borrowed or invested, as opposed to the interest paid or accruing on it.b. The most significant part of an estate, as opposed to minor or incidental components.
- Law a. The person on behalf of whom an agent acts.b. The person having prime responsibility for an obligation as distinguished from one who acts as surety or as an endorser.c. The main actor in the perpetration of a crime.
- Architecture Either of a pair of inclined timbers forming the sides of a triangular truss for a pitched roof.
Origin of principalMiddle English from Old French from Latin prīncipālis from prīnceps prīncip- leader, emperor ; see per1 in Indo-European roots.
Usage Note: Principal and principle are often confused but have no meanings in common. Principle is only a noun and usually refers to a rule or standard. Principal is both a noun and an adjective. As a noun, it has specialized meanings in law and finance, but in general usage it refers to a person who holds a high position or plays an important role: a meeting among all the principals in the transaction. As an adjective it has the sense of “chief” or “leading”: The coach's principal concern is the quarterback's health.
(comparative more principal, superlative most principal)
- Primary; most important.
- Smith is the principal architect of this design.
- The principal cause of the failure was poor planning.
Principal should not be confused with principle. Principle is always a noun, meaning "moral rule", which is sometimes erroneously used with the meaning of the adjective principal.
- Incorrect: He is the principle musician in the band
- Correct: He is the principal musician in the band
A mnemonic to avoid this confusion is "The principal alphabetic principle places A before E".
Principal is generally not used in the comparative or superlative in formal writing, as the meaning is already superlative. However, one may occasionally see, e.g., more principal meaning more likely to be principal or more nearly principal. There are similar issues with unique.
(countable and uncountable, plural principals)
- (finance, uncountable) The money originally invested or loaned, on which basis interest and returns are calculated.
- A portion of your mortgage payment goes to reduce the principal, and the rest covers interest.
- (North America, Australia, New Zealand) The chief administrator of a school.
- (UK, Scotland, Canada) The chief executive and chief academic officer of a university or college.
- (law) One who directs another (the agent) to act on one"²s behalf.
- When an attorney represents a client, the client is the principal who permits the attorney, the client"²s agent, to act on the client"²s behalf.
- (law) The primary participant in a crime.
- A company represented by a salesperson.
- My principal sells metal shims.
- (North America) A partner or owner of a business.
- (music) A diapason, a type of organ stop on a pipe organ.
- (architecture, engineering) The construction that gives shape and strength to a roof, generally a truss of timber or iron; or, loosely, the most important member of a piece of framing.
- The first two long feathers of a hawk's wing.
- One of the turrets or pinnacles of waxwork and tapers with which the posts and centre of a funeral hearse were formerly crowned.
Principal should not be confused with principle. They are both nouns, but principle means "moral rule", while principal may refer to a person or entity.
- Incorrect: He is the principle of our school
- Correct: He is the principal of our school
From Latin principalis.
principal - Investment & Finance Definition
- The amount of money that is borrowed, excluding the interest charge, that remains unpaid. Principal also may be part of a monthly payment that reduces the outstanding balance of a loan. For instance, mortgage payments consist of principal and interest payments.
- The person or company who is the main party to a transaction.
- The role that a broker or dealer plays when selling or buying securities for his or her own account.
- A company executive, typically one with an ownership interest in the company.
principal - Legal Definition