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Meaning of principle

prin•ci•ple

Pronunciation: (prin'su-pul), [key]
— n.
  1. an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct: a person of good moral principles.
  2. a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived: the principles of modern physics.
  3. a fundamental doctrine or tenet; a distinctive ruling opinion: the principles of the Stoics.
  4. a personal or specific basis of conduct or management: to adhere to one's principles; a kindergarten run on modern principles.
  5. guiding sense of the requirements and obligations of right conduct: a person of principle.
  6. an adopted rule or method for application in action: a working principle for general use.
  7. a rule or law exemplified in natural phenomena, the construction or operation of a machine, the working of a system, or the like: the principle of capillary attraction.
  8. the method of formation, operation, or procedure exhibited in a given case: a community organized on the patriarchal principle.
  9. a determining characteristic of something; essential quality.
  10. an originating or actuating agency or force: growth is the principle of life.
  11. an actuating agency in the mind or character, as an instinct, faculty, or natural tendency: the principles of human behavior.
  12. a constituent of a substance, esp. one giving to it some distinctive quality or effect.
  13. beginning or commencement.
  14. in essence or substance; fundamentally: to accept a plan in principle.
  15. He refused on principle to agree to the terms of the treaty.
    1. according to personal rules for right conduct; as a matter of moral principle:He refused on principle to agree to the terms of the treaty.
    2. according to a fixed rule, method, or practice:He drank hot milk every night on principle.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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