from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A basic truth, law, or assumption: the principles of democracy.
- n. A rule or standard, especially of good behavior: a man of principle.
- n. The collectivity of moral or ethical standards or judgments: a decision based on principle rather than expediency.
- n. A fixed or predetermined policy or mode of action.
- n. A basic or essential quality or element determining intrinsic nature or characteristic behavior: the principle of self-preservation.
- n. A rule or law concerning the functioning of natural phenomena or mechanical processes: the principle of jet propulsion.
- n. Chemistry One of the elements that compose a substance, especially one that gives some special quality or effect.
- n. A basic source. See Usage Note at principal.
- idiom in principle With regard to the basics: an idea that is acceptable in principle.
- idiom on principle According to or because of principle.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A fundamental assumption.
- n. A rule used to choose among solutions to a problem.
- n. Moral rule or aspect.
- n. A rule or law of nature, or the basic idea on how the laws of nature are applied.
- n. A fundamental essence, particularly one producing a given quality.
- n. A beginning.
- v. To equip with principles; to establish, or fix, in certain principles; to impress with any tenet or rule of conduct.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. Beginning; commencement.
- n. A source, or origin; that from which anything proceeds; fundamental substance or energy; primordial substance; ultimate element, or cause.
- n. An original faculty or endowment.
- n. A fundamental truth; a comprehensive law or doctrine, from which others are derived, or on which others are founded; a general truth; an elementary proposition; a maxim; an axiom; a postulate.
- n. A settled rule of action; a governing law of conduct; an opinion or belief which exercises a directing influence on the life and behavior; a rule (usually, a right rule) of conduct consistently directing one's actions.
- n. Any original inherent constituent which characterizes a substance, or gives it its essential properties, and which can usually be separated by analysis; -- applied especially to drugs, plant extracts, etc.
- transitive v. To equip with principles; to establish, or fix, in certain principles; to impress with any tenet, or rule of conduct, good or ill.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Beginning; commencement.
- n. Cause, in the widest sense; that by which anything is in any way ultimately determined or regulated.
- n. An original faculty or endowment of the mind: as, the principle of observation and comparison.
- n. A truth which is evident and general; a truth comprehending many subordinate truths; a law on which others are founded, or from which others are derived: as, the principles of morality, of equity, of government, etc. In mathematical physics a principle commonly means a very widely useful theorem.
- n. That which is professed or accepted as a law of action or a rule of conduct; one of the fundamental doctrines or tenets of a system: as, the principles of the Stoics or of the Epicureans; hence, a right rule of conduct; in general, equity; uprightness: as, a man of principle.
- n. In chem.: A component part; an element: as, the constituent principles of bodies.
- n. A substance on the presence of which certain qualities, common to a number of bodies, depend. See proximate principles, under proximate.
- n. In patent law, a law of nature, or a general property of matter, a rule of abstract science.
- n. a certain important proposition concerning the equation
- n. See the adjectives.
- To establish or fix in certain principles; impress with any tenet or belief, whether good or ill: used chiefly in the past participle.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a basic truth or law or assumption
- n. a basic generalization that is accepted as true and that can be used as a basis for reasoning or conduct
- n. a rule or standard especially of good behavior
- n. (law) an explanation of the fundamental reasons (especially an explanation of the working of some device in terms of laws of nature)
- n. rule of personal conduct
- n. a rule or law concerning a natural phenomenon or the function of a complex system
Middle English, alteration of Old French principe, from Latin prīncipium, from prīnceps, prīncip-, leader, emperor; see per1 in Indo-European roots.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French principe, from Latin principium ("beginning, foundation"), from princeps ("first"); see prince. (Wiktionary)