Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

  

English definition of “principle”

principle

noun     /ˈprɪnsəpl/
[C] a basic idea or rule that explains or controls how something happens or works : a principle of sth Those who paid the most would be earning the most: it's a pretty basic principle of fair taxation .basic/fundamental/general principle The general principles of project management are much the same in the two cases .on the principle that The organization works on the principle that all members have the same rights . The country is run on socialist principles.
[C or U] a moral rule or standard of good behaviour : I never cheat a customer , as a matter of principle. She'd never ask to borrow money , on principle.
in principle if you agree with or believe something in principle, you agree with the idea in general , although you might not agree with all the details or support it in every situation : In principle, we support the merger , but we think the value is insufficient . The EU may also move to implement a ban on new investment , previously agreed in principle. if something should happen in principle, it should happen in theory although it does not in fact always happen or has not yet happened : In principle, bonuses ought to fall when conditions get tough . In practice , they don't.
→ See also ability to pay principle, accounting principle, benefit principle, the Pareto principle, statement of principles
(Definition of principle noun from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
Focus on the pronunciation of principle

Definitions of “principle” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

friendship

a situation in which two people are friends

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More