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Definition a basic rule or belief
The exact meaning of principle can depend upon its context. For example:
  • "our guiding principles" — basic moral beliefs that guide decisions and behavior
  • "electromagnetic principles" — rules describing how the world works
  • "She lacks principles." — lacks moral guidelines
  • "We agree in principle." — about important basic beliefs

See a comprehensive dictionary for more specialized senses including one in chemistry.
  • I accept as a basic principle that all people are precious and should be treated with equal dignity.
principle = belief
  • Our organization has a written list of guiding principles.
  • principles = beliefs or rules
  • She lacks principles. Her belief system depends on what advantages her in any given situation.
  • principles = moral rules that guide behavior
  • Basic rocketry principles indicate that our rocket should exceed an altitude of one mile, but we won't know that it works until we test it.
  • principles = natural rules describing how the world works
  • We agree in principle, but there are many details to work out.
  • principle = in basic belief
  • One guiding principle is that everyone should be treated fairly.
  • principle = rule or belief
  • Not that we'd ever done anything, it was the principle of the thing.
    Harper Lee  --  To Kill a Mockingbird
  • principle = basic belief about what is right
  • For example, it's against my principles to do my daughter's homework for her.
    Katherine Applegate  --  The One and Only Ivan
  • principles = basic rules or beliefs of what is right
  • Cherry had said she wouldn't drink Dally's Coke if she was starving, and she meant it. It was the principle of the thing. But Marcia saw no reason to throw away a perfectly good, free Coke.
    S.E. Hinton  --  The Outsiders
  • principle = basic rule or belief
  • It's a matter of principle, Dad.
    Katherine Applegate  --  The One and Only Ivan
  • principle = basic rule or belief
  • He was a year older than I, and I avoided him on principle: he enjoyed everything I disapproved of, and disliked my ingenuous diversions.
    Harper Lee  --  To Kill a Mockingbird
  • principle = as a general rule
  • There is something in the universe — I don't know, some spirit, some principle — that you will never overcome.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • Then what is it, this principle that will defeat us?
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • A too rigid equality in rations, Squealer explained, would have been contrary to the principles of Animalism.
    George Orwell  --  Animal Farm
  • But this state of affairs is not necessarily permanent, nor is it a matter of principle.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • In principle, membership of these three groups is not hereditary.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • But this would violate the principle, followed on all sides though never formulated, of cultural integrity.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • In principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • We disbelieve in the principles of Ingsoc.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • 'Never go home the same way as you went out,' she said, as though enunciating an important general principle.
    George Orwell  --  1984

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