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Principal vs. Principle: Definition, Synonyms, and Antonyms

Principal and principle sound the same but are spelled differently. The difference can be seen in the last three letters of each word, with “principal” ending with -al and “principle” with -le.

Kimberly Ann Potts
Kimberly Ann Potts

“Principal” is a noun and sometimes an adjective that generally means the main or head person. As a noun, it can also mean a capital sum of money or someone who employs an agent to act on his behalf. It simply means main, first, foremost, or primary as an adjective. The synonyms of principal include “dominant,” “key,” “major,” “predominant,” “superior,” “prime,” and “capital.” The antonyms of principal include “last,” “auxiliary,” “minor,” “secondary,” and “subordinate.”

“Principle” on the other hand, is a noun that generally means a rule, fundamental truth, or tenet such as the principles of law. The synonyms of principle include “proposition,” “concept,” “idea,” “theory,” “postulate,” “assumptions.” The antonyms of principle include “ambiguity,” “end,” “result,” and “effect.”

Distinctions Between “Principal” and “Principle”

1. Part of speech

Both words are commonly used as nouns; however, principal can be used as a noun and an adjective. Principle, on the other hand, can only be used as a noun. As nouns, they can refer to a person, place, thing, substance, event, or quality. As an adjective, principal describes a noun.

2. Sentence use

You make use of “principle” as a noun in a sentence whenever you refer to fundamental concepts, ideas, or guiding truths that should be followed. For example:

Did you know the basic principle of Insurance is Indemnity?
As a lawyer, you ought to adhere to the principles of law.
He is a man of solid principles.
We all have our moral principles. What are yours?

On the other hand, principal can be used as a noun when referring to a leader/superior and the original amount of a loan. For example:

All school teachers and principals in the district should attend the conference.
The loan principal and interest must be repaid
He is the principal of that old bank.

It functions as an adjective when it describes the critical person or item. For example:

My mother is the principal guest speaker at the event.
The CEO and CFO are the principal officers in that organization.
My father is the principal shareholder of a foreign and indigenous bank.

3. Spelling

Principal and principle sound the same but are spelled differently. The difference can be seen in the last three letters of each word, with “principal” ending with -al and “principle” with -le.

Video Examples:

The Prestige (2006)
Election (1999)
Woman in Gold (2015)
V for Vendetta (2005)
Gladiator (2000)
EnglishWhich is correct

Kimberly Ann Potts

My name is Kimberly. I'm an experienced copywriter and editor. I like writing about complex topics to help readers find the correct answers.


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