AskDefine | Define principal

Dictionary Definition

principal adj : most important element; "the chief aim of living"; "the main doors were of solid glass"; "the principal rivers of America"; "the principal example"; "policemen were primary targets" [syn: chief(a), main(a), primary(a), principal(a)]


1 the original amount of a debt on which interest is calculated
2 the educator who has executive authority for a school; "she sent unruly pupils to see the principal" [syn: school principal, head teacher, head]
3 an actor who plays a principal role [syn: star, lead]
4 capital as contrasted with the income derived from it [syn: corpus, principal sum]
5 the major party to a financial transaction at a stock exchange; buys and sells for his own account [syn: dealer]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Primary; most important in a group.
    Smith is the principal architect of this design.
    The principal cause of the failure was poor planning.

Usage notes

This is generally not used in the comparative or superlative in formal writing, as the meaning is already superlative. However, one may occasionally see, e.g., more principal meaning more likely to be principal or more nearly principal. There are similar issues with unique.
The confused may care to remember that 'The principal alphabetic principle places A before E' as a reminder of the relative spelling.


primary, main


  1. In the context of "finance|uncountable": The money originally invested or loaned, on which basis interest and returns are calculated.
    A portion of your mortgage payment goes to reduce the principal, and the rest covers interest.
  2. The principal administrator of a school.
    Now you're in trouble! You're going to see the principal for that.
  3. A company you represent in as a sales person.
    One of my principals sells metal shims. I can get those for you.


The money originally invested or loaned
The principal administrator of a school
A company you represent in as a sales person



  1. main; principal

Derived terms







  1. main, most important
  2. essential


  1. chief, boss

Related terms

Extensive Definition

distinguish principle
Principal may refer to:


The head of an educational institution:


  • Principal (commercial law), a person who authorises an agent to act to create a legal relationship with a third party
  • Principal (criminal law), one (or more) primary actor(s) in a criminal offense for which other actors may be criminally liable as accomplices, accessories or conspirators

Other uses

principal in German: Prinzipal
principal in Simple English: Principal

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

A per se, English horn, academic dean, ace, administration, administrator, all-absorbing, arch, assets, backing, banner, bassoon, block flute, bombard, boss, bourdon, capital, capital gains distribution, capital structure, capitalization, cardinal, cash reserves, cello, central, chairman, champion, chancellor, chief, chief executive officer, circulating capital, claribel, clarinet, clarion, commander, concert flute, controlling, cornet, cornopean, corpus, cromorna, crowning, cymbel, danseur noble, dean, dean of men, dean of women, diapason, director, diva, dominant, doyen, doyenne, dulciana, electronics king, equity capital, feature attraction, first, first tragedian, fixed capital, floating capital, flute stop, focal, foremost, foundation stop, fourniture, front, fugleman, fund, gamba, gedeckt, gemshorn, genius, great, harmonic flute, head, headliner, headmaster, headmistress, headmost, heavy lead, hegemonic, hero, heroine, high priest, higher-up, highest, honcho, hybrid stop, important, important person, investment, jeune premier, key, king, kingfish, kingpin, koppel flute, larigot, laureate, lead, leader, leading, leading lady, leading light, leading man, luminary, magisterial, maiden, main, major, managing director, master, master spirit, melodia, mixture, money, moneyed capital, mutation stop, nazard, nonpareil, oboe, octave, organ stop, outstanding, overriding, overruling, owner, paragon, paramount, personage, piccolo, plein jeu, posaune, predominant, preeminent, premier, preponderant, president, prevailing, prima ballerina, prima donna, primal, primary, prime, prodigy, prominent, proprietor, protagonist, provost, quint, quintaten, rank, ranket, ranking, rector, reed stop, register, resources, rohr flute, ruler, ruling, senior, sesquialtera, shawm, singer, sovereign, spitz flute, star, starring, stellar, stop, stopped diapason, stopped flute, string diapason, string stop, supereminent, superintendent, superior, superman, superstar, supervisor, supreme, the greatest, the most, tierce, top dog, topflight, topmost, tremolo, trombone, trumpet, twelfth, unda maris, uppermost, venture capital, vibrato, vice-chancellor, viola, virtuoso, voix celeste, vox angelica, vox humana, working capital
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