(1) The total amount of money being borrowed or lent. (2) The party affected by agent decisions in a principal-agent relationship. The New York Times Financial Glossary

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I. principal prin‧ci‧pal 1 [ˈprɪnspl] noun
1. [singular] FINANCE the original amount of a loan, not including any of the interest that is paid:

• The loan amounts outstanding totaled about $32.2 million in principal and $2.2 million in interest.

• No principal is due for repayment until next year.

2. [countable] an important person, manager etc in some types of organization, who may be legally responsible for its actions:

• Mr O'Brien is a principal of the Law and Economics Consulting Group.

3. [countable] LAW the actual buyer and the seller in a business deal, rather than the people who represent them, or broker S who buy and sell for them:

• None of the principals would comment on the purchase price.

  [m0] II. principal principal 2 adjective
1. most important; =main:

• Portland is one of the principal unloading points for Japanese automobiles.

• Gulf's strategy of concentrating on its principal business of oil and gas production

• As principal shareholders in the company, no one has a greater interest in its management.

• Baxter Healthcare is the principal subsidiary of Baxter International Inc. (= the largest company owned by them ) .

2. FINANCE relating to the original amount of a loan, rather than any interest:

• The total principal amount of debentures being sold was increased to $75 million.

• A new government may be unwilling to repay interest on the principal sum loaned.

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   The total amount borrowed or invested, e.g. the face amount of a bond bought by an investor. Also, the originator or prime mover in a financial deal, on whose behalf brokers act as agents.
   ► See also Broker.

* * *

principal UK US /ˈprɪnsəpəl/ adjective
first in order of importance: »

Iraq's principal export is oil.


Nigeria remains the country's principal economic partner.

FINANCE, ECONOMICS relating to an amount of money lent or borrowed, rather than to the interest paid on it: »

Shares of these funds involve investment risk, including the possible loss of the principal amount invested.

principal UK US /ˈprɪnsəpəl/ noun
[C usually singular] FINANCE an amount of money lent or borrowed, rather than the interest paid on it: »

She lives off the interest and tries to keep the principal intact.


These bonds involve the risk that the issuing company may be unable to pay interest or repay principal.


The money is secured by the borrower's home, which is sold after the borrower's death to pay off the interest and principal.

[C] LAW a person who is directly involved in an arrangement, agreement, etc., rather than someone acting for that person: »

Once the principals sign the necessary papers the deal will be done.

[C] LAW a person who has legal responsibility for what a business or organization does: »

I later became a principal at an investment banking firm.

Financial and business terms. 2012.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • principal — principal, ale, aux [ prɛ̃sipal, o ] adj. et n. • 1119; « princier » 1080; lat. principalis « principal, du prince », de princeps I ♦ Adj. 1 ♦ Qui est le plus important, le premier parmi plusieurs. ⇒ 1. capital, essentiel, fondamental, primordial …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • principal — prin·ci·pal 1 / prin sə pəl/ adj 1: being the main or most important, consequential, or influential their principal place of business the principal obligor 2: of, relating to, or constituting principal or a principal the principal amount of the… …   Law dictionary

  • principal — principal, ale 1. (prin si pal, pa l ) adj. 1°   Qui est le plus considérable, en parlant de personnes. Les principaux magistrats. •   Quand on bâtit une maison, quoique les maçons, les charpentiers, les plombiers, les menuisiers travaillent bien …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • principal — Principal, Estre le Principal et plus excellent, Primas partes in re aliqua agere, Principatum tenere. Pansa a esté nostre principal aide et secours, Principem habuimus Pansam. Laquelle chose est la principale et la meilleure, et la plus forte,… …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • Principal — may refer to: Education The head of an educational institution: *Principal (school), head of a primary or secondary school *Principal (university), chief executive of a university **Dean (education), a person with significant authority **Provost… …   Wikipedia

  • principal — PRINCIPÁL, Ă, principali, e, adj. Care are o importanţă deosebită sau cea mai mare importanţă; de căpetenie, de frunte. ♢ (gram.) Propoziţie principală (şi substantivat, f.) = propoziţie independentă dintr o frază, de care depind propoziţiile… …   Dicționar Român

  • Principal — Prin ci*pal, a. [F., from L. principalis. See {Prince}.] 1. Highest in rank, authority, character, importance, or degree; most considerable or important; chief; main; as, the principal officers of a Government; the principal men of a state; the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • principal — (Del lat. principālis). 1. adj. Dicho de una persona o de una cosa: Que tiene el primer lugar en estimación o importancia y se antepone y prefiere a otras. 2. Dicho de una persona: Que es la primera en un negocio o en cuya cabeza está. 3.… …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • principal — principal, principle The spellings are occasionally confused even by the wariest users of English, the usual mistake being to use principle for the adjective principal. Principal is an adjective and noun and essentially means ‘chief’ (my… …   Modern English usage

  • principal — [prin′sə pəl] adj. [OFr < L principalis < princeps: see PRINCE] 1. first in rank, authority, importance, degree, etc. 2. that is or has to do with PRINCIPAL (n. 3) n. 1. a principal person or thing; specif., a) a ch …   English World dictionary

  • Principal — Prin ci*pal, n. 1. A leader, chief, or head; one who takes the lead; one who acts independently, or who has controlling authority or influence; as, the principal of a faction, a school, a firm, etc.; distinguished from a {subordinate}, {abettor} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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