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Definition most important; or person who is most important
The exact meaning of principal can depend upon its context. For example:
  • "the principal idea" or "the principal performer" — the most important
  • "the principal of the school" — the person in charge
  • "a principal of a company" — an owner or person with controlling authority
  • "the principal in a transaction" (as contrasted to the agent) — the person on whose behalf an agent acts

See a comprehensive dictionary for specialized senses in finance, architecture, law, chemistry, and music.
  • The principal idea is that decisions should be made by the people who are most knowledgeable about specific circumstances that impact the decision.
principal = most important
  • The singer was the principal performer; though the whole band was good.
  • principal = most important
  • I remember how to spell principal (in contrast to principle) by thinking of the person in charge at my school as being a "pal".
  • Her card indicates that she is both a CPA and a principal of the firm.
  • I am not confident that the agent is acting in the best interest of the principal.
  • The young Greek, Michaelis, who ran the coffee joint beside the ashheaps was the principal witness at the inquest.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald  --  The Great Gatsby
  • principal = most important
  • "If you don't I'll call the principal," she said.
    Harper Lee  --  To Kill a Mockingbird
  • principal = person in charge of the school
  • That's Mr. Krupp, the principal.
    Dav Pilkey  --  Captain Underpants (# 1)
  • principal = the person in charge of the school
  • But we spoke to the principal there and told him about you and he really wants to meet you.
    R.J. Palacio  --  Wonder
  • principal = person in charge of the school
  • I'll just call up the principal and tell him!
    Harper Lee  --  To Kill a Mockingbird
  • principal = person in charge of the school
  • "He's the principal of my new school," I answered.
    R.J. Palacio  --  Wonder
  • principal = person in charge of the school
  • "He's the principal," answered Mom.
    R.J. Palacio  --  Wonder
  • principal = person in charge of the school
  • The Radleys, welcome anywhere in town, kept to themselves, a predilection unforgivable in Maycomb. They did not go to church, Maycomb's principal recreation, but worshiped at home; Mrs. Radley seldom if ever crossed the street for a mid-morning coffee break with her neighbors, and certainly never joined a missionary circle.
    Harper Lee  --  To Kill a Mockingbird
  • principal = most important
  • Principal Krupp turned back into ....
    Dav Pilkey  --  Captain Underpants (# 1)
  • Principal Krupp took the videotape out of his file cabinet.
    Dav Pilkey  --  Captain Underpants (# 1)
  • Lots of the principal people gethered around the king, to let him see they was on his side.
    Mark Twain  --  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • The boys looked up at their principal, who had been standing behind them in a trance all morning.
    Dav Pilkey  --  Captain Underpants (# 1)
  • George held up his hand and showed the ring to Principal Krupp.
    Dav Pilkey  --  Captain Underpants (# 1)
  • "Anything?" asked Principal Krupp with delight.
    Dav Pilkey  --  Captain Underpants (# 1)
  • "I thought you'd never ask," laughed Principal Krupp.
    Dav Pilkey  --  Captain Underpants (# 1)

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list —®
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