• WordNet 3.6
    • n principle (law) an explanation of the fundamental reasons (especially an explanation of the working of some device in terms of laws of nature) "the rationale for capital punishment","the principles of internal-combustion engines"
    • n principle a basic truth or law or assumption "the principles of democracy"
    • n principle a rule or law concerning a natural phenomenon or the function of a complex system "the principle of the conservation of mass","the principle of jet propulsion","the right-hand rule for inductive fields"
    • n principle a basic generalization that is accepted as true and that can be used as a basis for reasoning or conduct "their principles of composition characterized all their works"
    • n principle a rule or standard especially of good behavior "a man of principle","he will not violate his principles"
    • n principle rule of personal conduct
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Principle A fundamental truth; a comprehensive law or doctrine, from which others are derived, or on which others are founded; a general truth; an elementary proposition; a maxim; an axiom; a postulate. "Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.""A good principle , not rightly understood, may prove as hurtful as a bad."
    • Principle A settled rule of action; a governing law of conduct; an opinion or belief which exercises a directing influence on the life and behavior; a rule (usually, a right rule) of conduct consistently directing one's actions; as, a person of no principle . "All kinds of dishonesty destroy our pretenses to an honest principle of mind."
    • Principle A source, or origin; that from which anything proceeds; fundamental substance or energy; primordial substance; ultimate element, or cause. "The soul of man is an active principle ."
    • Principle An original faculty or endowment. "Nature in your principles hath set [benignity].""Those active principles whose direct and ultimate object is the communication either of enjoyment or suffering."
    • Principle (Chem) Any original inherent constituent which characterizes a substance, or gives it its essential properties, and which can usually be separated by analysis; -- applied especially to drugs, plant extracts, etc. "Cathartine is the bitter, purgative principle of senna."
    • Principle Beginning; commencement. "Doubting sad end of principle unsound."
    • v. t Principle To equip with principles; to establish, or fix, in certain principles; to impress with any tenet, or rule of conduct, good or ill. "Governors should be well principled .""Let an enthusiast be principled that he or his teacher is inspired."
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n principle Beginning; commencement.
    • n principle Cause, in the widest sense; that by which anything is in any way ultimately determined or regulated.
    • n principle An original faculty or endowment of the mind: as, the principle of observation and comparison.
    • n principle A truth which is evident and general; a truth comprehending many subordinate truths; a law on which others are founded, or from which others are derived: as, the principles of morality, of equity, of government, etc. In mathematical physics a principle commonly means a very widely useful theorem.
    • n principle That which is professed or accepted as a law of action or a rule of conduct; one of the fundamental doctrines or tenets of a system: as, the principles of the Stoics or of the Epicureans; hence, a right rule of conduct; in general, equity; uprightness: as, a man of principle.
    • n principle In chem.: A component part; an element: as, the constituent principles of bodies.
    • n principle A substance on the presence of which certain qualities, common to a number of bodies, depend. See proximate principles, under proximate.
    • n principle In patent law, a law of nature, or a general property of matter, a rule of abstract science. A principle is not patentable, although a process for utilizing a principle may be. Compare process.
    • n principle a certain important proposition concerning the equation
    • n principle See the adjectives.
    • principle To establish or fix in certain principles; impress with any tenet or belief, whether good or ill: used chiefly in the past participle.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Principle prin′si-pl a fundamental truth on which others are founded or from which they spring: a law or doctrine from which others are derived: an original faculty of the mind: a settled rule of action: :
    • v.t Principle to establish in principles: to impress with a doctrine
    • n Principle prin′si-pl (chem.) a constituent part
    • n Principle prin′si-pl (obs.) a beginning
    • ***


  • David Hume
    “Character is the result of a system of stereotyped principles.”
  • James Russell Lowell
    “I don't believe in principle, but I do in interest.”
  • Artemus Ward
    Artemus Ward
    “When a fellow says it ain't the money but the principle of the thing, it's the money.”
  • Confucius
    “To see what is right, and not do it, is want of courage, or of principle.”
  • Gerald Barzan
    Gerald Barzan
    “Success is the ability to rise above principle.”
  • Stephen R. Covey
    “You can't live principles you can't understand.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
F. principe, L. principium, beginning, foundation, fr. princeps, -cipis,. See Prince
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L. principium, beginning—princeps.


In literature:

I deplored this, but could not yield the principle of holding justice superior to persons.
"Autobiography of Frank G. Allen, Minister of the Gospel" by Frank G. Allen
This intrinsic advantage of certain principles and methods is none the less real for being in a sense aesthetic.
"The Sense of Beauty" by George Santayana
"Conversations on Chemistry, V. 1-2" by Jane Marcet
The principle of this law is a principle of common-sense.
"Select Temperance Tracts" by American Tract Society
Either plan contradicts first principles.
"Lectures on the French Revolution" by John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton
Principles are only so far "first principles" as they are permanent and unchangeable, depending on neither time, nor place, nor circumstances.
"Christianity and Greek Philosophy" by Benjamin Franklin Cocker
He adds, however, that the scheme of punishment was 'severe to the highest degree, and destitute of every sort of principle or system.
"The English Utilitarians, Volume I." by Leslie Stephen
Here are laid the primitive principles of future character and conduct.
"Public School Education" by Michael Müller
The principle of the precept is absolutely subversive of the principle of slavery.
"Cotton is King and The Pro-Slavery Arguments" by Various
The greatest happiness principle is the one and supreme principle of conduct.
"Liberalism" by L. T. Hobhouse

In poetry:

Yet, tho' your principles are slack
In one respect or two,
I'm very glad to hear you’re back,
Cuckoo !
"To an Old Friend" by John Joy Bell
The hippopotamus is true
To his principles, and just;
He always tries his best to do
The things one hippopotomust.
"Habits of the Hippopotamus" by Arthur Guiterman
Who, whilst in Sodom, kept himself so well,
So free from ev'ry fault, as holy Lot?
Yet, in a cave, thro' drunkenness he fell,
And there his former principles forgot.
"Stanza's Concerning Some Persons And Things, That Are Mentioned In The Holy Scriptures" by Rees Prichard
I wouldn't buy no cursed drink
Fer any fightin' bloke!
Wot? Torkin' loud? Well, do yeh think
I'm 'shamed o' wot I shpoke?
I stansh on principle, by Gosh!
'Ere, 'ave anurrer lemin squash.
"The Bar-Room Patriot" by C J Dennis
Brave Cameron, full well was thy courage envinced
In a scene where the bravest have faltered and winced,
When true to thy pledge and thy principles high,
When the wine-cup was proferred thou motioned it by.
"Brave Angus Cameron" by Janet Hamilton
And, to our 'natural allies'—
Our veteran Kinderhook Invincibles,
Who do our bidding, in the guise
Of 'northern men, with southern principles,'—
Men who have faces firm as dough,
And, as we set their noses, go—
"Slaveholder's Address To The North Star" by John Pierpont

In news:

He said it was in terms of principles, not process.
Preventive efforts like ergonomic workstations and principles can help thwart the injuries from the start.
Well, I have no principled objections.
My twin sister and I were raised under a few blanket principles.
It's time to make filibustering senators go through the exercise of standing up for their principles.
Learn about the principles of servo and radar flow measurement.
The principles of Colpitts PineRidge Ranch were established by Dr Tom Colpitts, a dentist turned alternative health practitioner.
Mayor Bloomberg doesn't usually stand on principle.
But researchers say the work demonstrates that, in principle, objects could be made to disappear from radar, cameras, and other detection devices.
John brown was an abolitionist who had nothing to do with BBQ, but josh admired his principles and named his cafeteria-style restaurant for him.
I am not going to define a " journalist " except to say that those that follow the nine principles of journalism are clearly a journalist .
The singer says that says that the title of the new album was heavily inspired by a principle in the Jewish school of thought known as Kabbalah .
Does Sebelius know the three different tests applied to the Constitution to determine whether a piece of legislation balances principles.
Kwanzaa 's seven principles apply to all.
Each of the principles has a Swahili name as well- even though most African-Americans are from West Africa and Swahili is primarily an East African language.

In science:

However, this principle is not a special principle for quantum gravity, it is a ubiquitous principle in quantum field theory.
Gauge Theory of Gravity
On the other horizon, which is not treated as a boundary, the fields are varied in the action principle and, therefore, the action principle must be such that the Einstein equations hold there.
de Sitter Black Holes with Either of the Two Horizons as a Boundary
Decompositions and SF E The fact that SF E (cid:16)RexPL (Ω,F) νwµ (dν )(cid:17) = wµ (SF E ) is essential to our proof of the large deviations principle and the variational principle. A longer, more detailed proof of this result—which follows Chapter 15 of —is given in Appendix A.
Random Surfaces
In Section 5.3, we derive a technical result we need for both the proof of the variational principle in Chapter 6 and the proof of the large deviations principle in Chapter 7.
Random Surfaces
The large deviations principle and variational principle results in Chapters 6 and 7 were proved for isotropic potentials and for Lipschitz potentials in the discrete setting.
Random Surfaces