Meaning of “principal” in the English Dictionary

"principal" in British English

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principaladjective [ before noun ]

uk /ˈprɪn.sə.pəl/ us /ˈprɪn.sə.pəl/

B1 first in order of importance:

Iraq's principal export is oil.
He was principal dancer at the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
That was my principal reason for moving.

More examples

principalnoun

uk /ˈprɪn.sə.pəl/ us /ˈprɪn.sə.pəl/

(Definition of “principal” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"principal" in American English

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principaladjective [ not gradable ]

us /ˈprɪn·sə·pəl/

principal adjective [ not gradable ] (MAIN)

first in order of importance:

Iraq’s principal export is oil.

principalnoun

us /ˈprɪn·sə·pəl/

principal noun (PERSON)

[ C ] a person in charge of a school

principal noun (MONEY)

(Definition of “principal” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"principal" in Business English

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principaladjective

uk /ˈprɪnsəpəl/ us

first in order of importance:

Iraq's principal export is oil.
Nigeria remains the country's principal economic partner.

FINANCE, ECONOMICS relating to an amount of money lent or borrowed, rather than to the interest paid on it:

Shares of these funds involve investment risk, including the possible loss of the principal amount invested.

principalnoun

uk /ˈprɪnsəpəl/ us

[ C usually singular ] FINANCE an amount of money lent or borrowed, rather than the interest paid on it:

She lives off the interest and tries to keep the principal intact.
These bonds involve the risk that the issuing company may be unable to pay interest or repay principal.
The money is secured by the borrower's home, which is sold after the borrower's death to pay off the interest and principal.

[ C ] LAW a person who is directly involved in an arrangement, agreement, etc., rather than someone acting for that person:

Once the principals sign the necessary papers the deal will be done.

[ C ] LAW a person who has legal responsibility for what a business or organization does:

I later became a principal at an investment banking firm.

(Definition of “principal” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)