Meaning of PRINCIPAL in English

I. ˈprin(t)-s(ə-)pəl, -sə-bəl adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin principalis, from princip-, princeps

Date: 14th century

1. : most important, consequential, or influential : chief

the principal ingredient

the region's principal city

2. : of, relating to, or constituting principal or a principal

Usage: see principle

• prin·ci·pal·ly -sə-p(ə-)lē, -sə-bə-lē, -splē adverb

II. noun

Date: 14th century

1. : a person who has controlling authority or is in a leading position: as

a. : a chief or head man or woman

b. : the chief executive officer of an educational institution

c. : one who engages another to act as an agent subject to general control and instruction ; specifically : the person from whom an agent's authority derives

d. : the chief or an actual participant in a crime

e. : the person primarily or ultimately liable on a legal obligation

f. : a leading performer : star

2. : a matter or thing of primary importance: as


(1) : a capital sum earning interest, due as a debt, or used as a fund

(2) : the corpus of an estate, portion, devise, or bequest

b. : the construction that gives shape and strength to a roof and is usually one of several trusses ; broadly : the most important member of a piece of framing

Usage: see principle

• prin·ci·pal·ship ˈprin(t)-s(ə-)pəl-ˌship, -sə-bəl- noun

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate English vocabulary.      Энциклопедический словарь английского языка Merriam Webster.