Difference Between Principal and Principle & Their Similarities


Is a principal or a principle called the head of a school? These two words are frustratingly quite similar, leaving even the most experienced speakers of the language English to second-guess about which word actually means what.

So, today, between these easy-to-confuseterms, we’ll discuss the distinct meanings —and leave you tricks to help differentiate between your principals and your principles.

You can also find differences between articles on various topics that you need to know. Just tap on the quick link available and get to know the basic differences between them.

What is the Difference Between Principal and Principle?

About Principal

The principal is both a noun as well as an adjective with a few different set of uses.

As a noun, “principal” has a few discrete meanings.

The most common meaning is used to refer to a person of prominence or high authority, someone who plays or holds an important role.

A school principal would be a good example.

For Example- Mr. Roger is the principal of the high school.

As an adjective, “principal” has the sense of “leading”, “primary” and “chief.”

For example- Hitler’s invasion of Poland was the principal cause of World War 2.

About Principle

The principle is considered a noun and generally refers to moral, legal rule, a natural or standard.

e.g., I find you to be a man of principle.

A few popular phrases use the word “principle,” so while using these phrases, be sure not to use “principal accidentally.”

  • As a principle, I agree with you.
  • In principle, I agree with you.
  • On a matter of principle, I must take a stand.

All three of these popular phrases use the word “principle” exclusively.

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Differences Between Principal And Principle

Area of Difference:

Principal Principle
Origination: Originates from ‘principalis’ a Latin word meaning chief, first. Originates from Latin word ‘principium’ meaning starting, basis, origin, beginning etc.
Uses of the word in Grammar: Can be both noun and adjective The principle can only be a noun
As a noun – an important person of an

organisation or the principal is the head. Principal as an adjective – chief

leading, the principal is primary etc.

Also Principal as a Noun – it is a term to the main person responsible for the crime, respectively and used in Finance andLaw referring to the loan amount.

As a noun – Principle means legal rule or

standard, scientific rule, natural or moral belief, etc.

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Similarities Between Principal And Principle

Both Principle and principal have entered from Old French to the English language; they can be traced from some Latin word – like primus in

English Prime. The word Principle and principal are a pair of homophones that

sound similar, but their meaning and usage are different.

Frequently Asked Question on

How do you remember principal and principle?

In reference to describe the importance of something or to a person who is in leadership; use the principle to refer to a rule, standard or guiding belief use Principal. One popular mnemonic device is the isolation of “pal” from the principal to remember this difference.

Does principal mean Main?

When used as an adjective, the principal means “main” or “primary,” such as the principal finding in a study. On the other hand, the principle is a noun that means a rule, tenet, or basic truth, such as the principle of gravity.

What are synonyms for principle?

Some synonyms are basis, ethic, doctrine, foundation, precept, truth, proposition, rule.

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