- principle prin‧ci‧ple [ˈprɪnspl] noun1. [countable, uncountable] a moral rule or set of ideas that makes you behave in a particular way:
• The single European market works on market principles.
• As a matter of principle (= a rule that is very important and that should not be broken ) , disabled people should have the right to work.— see also error of principle2. [countable] a rule that explains how something works, or an idea that something is based on:
• The basic principle is that all information collected for one purpose is confidential.
• The US market is built on the principle that a marketplace should be available to everyone.
• accounting practice based on the accruals principleaˌbility-to-ˈpay ˌprinciple [singular] ECONOMICSthe economic idea stating that people who earn more money should pay a higher rate of taxacˈcounting ˌprinciple [countable] ACCOUNTINGa rule or idea used for preparing accounts in a particular company or place:
• The accounting principles adopted must be objective in the sense that any accountant would produce an acceptable set of accounts from the same data.— see also Generally Accepted Accounting Principlesˈbenefit ˌprinciple [singular] ECONOMICSthe idea that the people who use a particular public service should pay for it through taxes:
• There are two principles behind taxation: ability to pay and the benefit principle.3. in principle if something is possible in principle, there is no reason why it should not happen, but it has not actually happened yet:
• In principle, we pay all our freelance staff within one month.4. in principle if something happens in principle, decisions, rules etc say that it should happen, even if in practice it does not always happen:
• In principle, a hostile takeover is possible, but we want to discourage it.5. in principle if you agree to do something in principle, you agree in a general way to the idea or plan, without agreeing to any details:
• North and South Korea agreed in principle to link their separate air-traffic control systems.
* * *principle UK US /ˈprɪnsəpl/ noun► [C] a basic idea or rule that explains or controls how something happens or works: a principle of sth »
Those who paid the most would be earning the most: it's a pretty basic principle of fair taxation.basic/fundamental/general principle »
The general principles of project management are much the same in the two cases.on the principle that »
The organization works on the principle that all members have the same rights.»
The country is run on socialist principles.► [C or U] a moral rule or standard of good behaviour: »
I never cheat a customer, as a matter of principle.»
She'd never ask to borrow money, on principle.● in principle — Cf. in principle
Financial and business terms. 2012.