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The following statistics are based on the British National Corpus, so they are representative for the British English.

Distribution of usage frequency for the most common synonyms of the noun principle:


Principle is sometimes a misspelling of principal or principles.

The word principle and its family (principled, principles, unprincipled) are included in the Academic Word List by Dr. Averil Coxhead, which contains the 570 most frequent word families used in academic texts from a variety of subject areas, of interest for students that learn the words most needed to study at tertiary institutions.

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Definition of the noun principle

What does principle mean as a name of something?

Principle is one of the top 1000 most common nouns in the English language.

noun - plural: principles

  1. a basic generalization that is accepted as true and that can be used as a basis for reasoning or conduct
    • example: their principles of composition characterized all their works
    • lexical domain: Cognitive Processes - nouns denoting cognitive processes and contents
    • synonym of principle: rule
    • more generic words: generalisation / generality / generalization = an idea or conclusion having general application
    • more specific terms:
      • pillar = a fundamental principle or practice
      • yang = the bright positive masculine principle in Chinese dualistic cosmology
      • yin = the dark negative feminine principle in Chinese dualistic cosmology
      • feng shui = rules in Chinese philosophy that govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to patterns of yin and yang and the flow of energy
  2. a rule or standard especially of good behavior
  3. a basic truth or law or assumption
  4. a rule or law concerning a natural phenomenon or the function of a complex system
  5. rule of personal conduct
    • lexical domain: Communicative Processes - nouns denoting communicative processes and contents
    • synonym of principle: precept
    • more generic words: prescript / rule = prescribed guide for conduct or action
    • more specific terms:
      • higher law = a principle that takes precedent over the laws of society
      • moral principle = the principle that conduct should be moral
      • hypothetical imperative = a principle stating the action required to attain a desired goal
      • caveat emptor = a commercial principle that without a warranty the buyer takes upon himself the risk of quality
    • part of: ethic / ethical code = a system of principles governing morality and acceptable conduct
  6. (law) an explanation of the fundamental reasons (especially an explanation of the working of some device in terms of laws of nature)
    • example: the principles of internal-combustion engines
    • domain: jurisprudence / law
    • lexical domain: Cognitive Processes - nouns denoting cognitive processes and contents
    • synonym of principle: rationale
    • more generic word: explanation = thought that makes something comprehensible
    • more specific word: dialectics = a rationale for dialectical materialism based on change through the conflict of opposing forces

Alternative definition of the noun principle


  1. A fundamental assumption.
  2. A rule used to choose among solutions to a problem.
  3. [usually, plural] Moral rule or aspect.
  4. [physics] A rule or law of nature, or the basic idea on how the laws of nature are applied.
  5. A fundamental essence, particularly one producing a given quality.
  6. [obsolete] A beginning.


  1. Principle is a fictional character from the 2009 film Dark Cloud.
  2. Principle is a fictional character in the 2004 TV film Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets.
  3. Principle is a fictional character from the 1999 drama, romance, sport film, For Love of the Game.
  4. Principle is a fictional character from the 2013 film Reaching for the Moon.
  5. Principle is a fictional character from the 1984 film Productivity and Performance by Alex K. .


  1. "Principle" is a musical album of VOLA & THE ORIENTAL MACHINE.
    • released on (4 years ago)
  2. "Principle" is a musical album of Kemuri.
    • released on (9 years ago)
  3. "Principle" is a composition.


  1. Principle a.k.a. Law: A law is a universal principle that describes the fundamental nature of something, the universal properties and the relationships between things, or a description that purports to explain these principles and relationships.
    • read more about Law
  2. Principle: In modern chemistry, principles are the constituents of a substance, specifically those that produce a certain quality or effect in the substance, such as a bitter principle, which is any one of the numerous compounds having a bitter taste.
  3. Principle: A posterior determinant.

Phrases with Principle

  1. in principle
  2. Kiss Principle
  3. life principle
  4. basic principle
  5. First principle
  6. legal principle
  7. moral principle
  8. Peter Principle
  9. vital principle
  10. bitter principle
  11. Mach's Principle
  12. Pareto Principle
  13. Matthew Principle
  14. reality principle
  15. working principle
  16. Huygens' Principle
  17. judicial principle
  18. Mitchell Principle
  19. pleasure principle
  20. Anthropic principle

View more phrases with the word Principle in thesaurus!

Printed dictionaries and other books with definitions for Principle

Click on a title to look inside that book (if available):

Google previewReasons for Action (2013)

Toward a Normative Theory and Meta-Level Criteria by B.C. Postow

possibility that one can legitimately judge from the personal standpoint that a principle is an ultimate rational principle.

Google previewEssential Psychology (2015)

by Philip Banyard, Gayle Dillon, Christine Norman, Belinda Winder

The first principle is that of a onetoone correspondence between objects in an array and number. Gelman and Gallistel suggest that children as young as twoandahalf years old will assign one, and only one, tag to each item in the set.

Google previewThe Law Journal Reports (1899)

The first principle is that in equity the promoters of a company stand in a fiduciary relation to those persons whom they induce to become shareholders in it, and cannot in equity bind the company by any contract with themselves without fully ...

Google previewContemporary Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery - E-Book (2013)

by James R. Hupp, Myron R. Tucker, Edward Ellis

The first principle is that a sharp blade of the proper size should be used. A sharp blade allows incisions to be made cleanly, without unnecessary damage caused by repeated strokes. The rate at which a blade dulls depends on the resistance ...

Google previewPedophilia (2012)

Biosocial Dimensions by Jay R. Feierman

The first principle is that brain enzymes activate androgens to biologically effective forms. The production of estrogens from androgen by aromatase activity within brain cells is the best studied example. There is increasing evidence that ...

Google previewHandbook of Clinical Behavior Therapy with Adults (2012)

by Alan S. Bellack, Michel Hersen

A third principle is an emphasis on interactional patterns.

Google previewRegulating Corporate Bribery in International Business (2014)

Anti-corruption in the UK and Germany by Dr Nicholas Lord

The first principle is the bureaucratic paradox, which describes the fact that while it is one's official role that provides the formal...

Google previewHuman Services Management (2012)

Organizational Leadership in Social Work Practice by David Austin

The first principle is that the ultimate accountability of human service organizations, both nonprofit and governmental (but not for-profit), should be to the community through the board of directors or a governmental policy body. The second ...

Google previewThe Polluter Pays Principle (2008)


As the Polluter-Pays Principle is a fundamental principle of cost allocation, its analysis covers a substantial part of the vast...

Google previewFeasible Mathematics (1990)

A Mathematical Sciences Institute Workshop, Ithaca, New York, June 1989 ; [papers Presented at the Workshop on Feasible Mathematics, Held at Cornell University] by Samuel Buss, P.J. Scott

The Pigeonhole Principle is the statement that there is no one-to-one map of a set of size n into a set of size n — 1.

Google previewComprehensive Biomaterials (2015)

by Paul Ducheyne, Kevin Healy, Dietmar E. Hutmacher, David W. Grainger, C. James Kirkpatrick

The second guiding principle is that surface analysis data from many characterization techniques provide a logical, coherent, and integrated picture of the biomaterials surface. Contradictory data between several methods should be suspect ...

Google previewNon-Life Insurance Mathematics (1997)

by Erwin Straub

A premium calculation principle is a rule saying what premium should be assigned to a given risk. For the actuary a risk is...

Google previewThe Structure of Typed Programming Languages (1994)

by David A. Schmidt

The Abstraction Principle Is a Record Introduction Principle 61 this. Both modules and classes are named compound declarations. A module is an eagerly evaluated compound declaration, whereas a class is a lazily evaluated one.

Google previewThe Art and Practice of Creativity (2012)

by Christopher Alan Anderson

The Fundamental Principle Thefundamental principle is that most basic thought/ form or simplest insight of structure that...

Google previewHealing in the Light and the Art and Practice of Creativity (2012)

by Christopher Alan Anderson

The Fundamental Principle Thefundamental principle is that most basic thought/ form or simplest insight of structure that...

Google previewOperations Management (2014)

by William Stevenson

The Markula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University identifies five principles for thinking ethically: • The Utilitarian Principle is that the good done ...

Google previewA Dictionary of the Principle Religious Sects in the World (2015)

by Hayward, John

Materialists are those who maintain that the soul of man is material, or that the principle of perception and thought is not a substance distinct from the body, but the result of corporeal organization. There are others called by this name who have ...

Google previewRoutledge Encyclopedia of Language Teaching and Learning (2013)

by Michael Byram, Adelheid Hu

Principle 2. Instruction needs to ensure that learners focus predominantly on meaning. Principle 3. Instruction needs to ensure that learners also focus on form . Principle 4. Instruction needs to be predominantly directed at developing implicit ...

Google previewThe Routledge Dictionary of Philosophy (2009)

by Michael Proudfoot, A.R. Lacey

Sufficient reason (principle of) . Principle that nothingcanbesowithout a reason, causal orotherwise, why it is so. Nothingoccursby'blind chance',and,in particular, two apparent alternatives such as our universe and a 'mirror universe'like ours ...

Google previewHistorical Dictionary of Quotations in Cognitive Science (2000)

A Treasury of Quotations in Psychology, Philosophy, and Artificial Intelligence by Morton Wagman

Further, a so-called fundamental proposition or first principle of philosophy, even if ...

Google previewEncyclopedia of Literature and Science (2002)

by Pamela Gossin

Rafael Chabrán Uncertainty Principle. The statement that it is impossible to have full knowledge of any physical system, derived from quantum physics by Werner Heisenberg in 1927. In classical physics, both the position and momentum of a ...

Google previewThe Illustrated Encyclopedia of Confucianism: A-M (2005)

by Rodney Leon Taylor, Howard Yuen Fung Choy

Chi-ssu Ch'iung-li (exhausting principle) Chi-wu ...

Google previewDictionary of International Human Rights Law (2013)

by Connie de la Vega

the basic principle enunciated in article 2 of the...

Google previewA Dictionary of Correspondence, Representatives, and Significatives, Derived from the Word of the Lord (1872)

by Emanuel Swedenborg, George Nicholson, Charles Bolles

Inmost Principle, may be called the entrance of the Lord to man. H. and H. 39. Innate. Words, thoughts, gestures, etc., ...

Online dictionaries and encyclopedias with entries for Principle

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Photos about Principle

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Small photo of Ayutthaya,Thailand-June 7,2018:Principle Buddha image in a temple at Wihan Phra Mongkol Bophit is a Buddhist temple in the city of AyutthayaSmall photo of Ayutthaya,Thailand-June 7,2018:Principle Buddha image in a temple at Wihan Phra Mongkol Bophit is a Buddhist temple in the city of AyutthayaSmall photo of Physics. A cork floats in water and a antique weight sinks. Archimedes Principle.Small photo of GYEONGSANG, SOUTH KOREA - MAY 13, 2018 : Golden principle Buddha images in Main hall of Gujoel Pokpoam hermitage in Oegok city, Gyeongsang Province, South Korea.Small photo of Principle Buddha image in a templeSmall photo of Close up of old English dictionary page with word principleSmall photo of Public place of the Golden Principle Buddha image in a temple. More...

Video language resources about Principle

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View more videos about In Principle, KISS principle, First principle, Peter Principle, Pareto principle, Huygens principle, Goldilocks principle, Pigeonhole principle, Equivalence principle, Cosmological principle, IBM Pollyanna Principle, indeterminacy principle, Verifiability Principle, and Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

See also the pronunciation examples of Principle!

Quotes about Principle

God, great principle of all minor principles, God, who is Himself without a principle, could not conceive Himself, if, in order to do it, He required to know His own principle. (Giacomo Casanova)
more quotes about principle...

Scrabble value of P3R1I1N1C3I1P3L1E1

The value of this 9-letter word is 15 points. It is included in the first and second editions of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

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