Definition of principle noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

        

    principle

     noun
    noun
    BrE BrE//ˈprɪnsəpl//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈprɪnsəpl//
     
    Moral, Experiments and research
     
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  1. 1  [countable, usually plural, uncountable] a moral rule or a strong belief that influences your actions He has high moral principles. I refuse to lie about it; it's against my principles. Stick to your principles and tell him you won't do it. She refuses to allow her family to help her as a matter of principle. He doesn't invest in the arms industry on principle. See related entries: Moral
  2. 2  [countable] a law, a rule or a theory that something is based on the principles and practice of writing reports The principle behind it is very simple. There are three fundamental principles of teamwork. Discussing all these details will get us nowhere; we must get back to first principles (= the most basic rules). See related entries: Experiments and research
  3. 3  [countable] a belief that is accepted as a reason for acting or thinking in a particular way the principle that free education should be available for all children
  4. 4  [singular] a general or scientific law that explains how something works or why something happens the principle that heat rises A tidal current turbine is similar in principle to a windmill. See related entries: Experiments and research
  5. Word Origin late Middle English: from Old French, from Latin principium ‘source’, principia (plural) ‘foundations’, from princeps, princip- ‘first, chief’.Extra examples Eating meat was against her principles. Freedom is the founding principle of our Republic. He was a man of high moral principles. His novels reject chronology as an organizing principle. I agree with you in principle, but we’ll need to discuss the details. I refuse to compromise my principles by eating meat. She is interested in actual human relationships rather than abstract principles. She sticks to the principle that everyone should be treated equally. She went on to explain the principles behind what she was doing. She’s opposed to abortion on principle. The house incorporates many principles of modern environmentally aware design. The principle of equality is enshrined in our Constitution. They reject the proposal as a matter of principle. This principle applies to all kinds of selling. This violates every principle of good writing. the basic principles of car maintenance the principles underlying Western philosophy As a man of principle, he would not cover up for his former friend. As a matter of principle she won’t be visiting the president. Concern for welfare of the child is the guiding principle of the family courts. He doesn’t invest in the arms industry on principle. I can’t accept his offer without seriously compromising my principles. I refuse to lie about it—it’s against my principles. It is based on the principle that heat rises. Some countries refuse to accept these legal principles. Stick to your principles and tell him you won’t do it. The group never departed from its principle of non-violence. The order to show no mercy was contrary to the most basic principles of their religion. Their policy is based on the principle that free education should be available for all children. These same principles apply to all animals, including humans. We apply the principle of prevention to other areas of our lives; we regularly visit the dentist even when there is no pain. We must get back to first principles.Idioms
    1. 1  if something can be done in principle, there is no good reason why it should not be done although it has not yet been done and there may be some difficulties In principle there is nothing that a human can do that a machine might not be able to do one day.
    2. 2  in general but not in detail They have agreed to the proposal in principle but we still have to negotiate the terms.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: principle

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