A principle is a concept or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule that has to be, or usually is to be followed, or can be desirably followed, or is an inevitable consequence of something, such as the laws observed in nature or the way that a system is constructed. The principles of such a system are understood by its users as the essential characteristics of the system, or reflecting system’s designed purpose, and the effective operation or use of which would be impossible if any one of the principles was to be ignored. A system may be explicitly based on and implemented from a document of principles as was done in IBM’s 360/370 Principles of Operation.
Examples of principles are, entropy in a number of fields, least action in physics, those in descriptive comprehensive and fundamental law: doctrines or assumptions forming normative rules of conduct, separation of church and state in statecraft, the central dogma of molecular biology, fairness in ethics, etc.
In common English, it is a substantive and collective term referring to rule governance, the absence of which, being “unprincipled”, is considered a character defect. It may also be used to declare that a reality has diverged from some ideal or norm as when something is said to be true only “in principle” but not in fact.
Being a distinguishing feature of a person or thing.
A distinguishing feature of a person or thing.
“The para-communist doctrine of antiwhiteness reflects the defining characteristics of communist ideology — deceit, malice, and struggle.”
The integer part of a logarithm.
The distinguishing features of a navigational light on a lighthouse etc by which it can be identified (colour, pattern of flashes etc.).
For a given field or ring, a natural number that is either the smallest positive number n such that n instances of the multiplicative identity (1) summed together yield the additive identity (0) or, if no such number exists, the number 0.
“The characteristic of a field, if non-zero, must be a prime number.”
A fundamental assumption or guiding belief.
“We need some sort of principles to reason from.”
A rule used to choose among solutions to a problem.
“The principle of least privilege holds that a process should only receive the permissions it needs.”
Moral rule or aspect.
“I don’t doubt your principles.”
“You are clearly a person of principle.”
“It’s the principle of the thing; I won’t do business with someone I can’t trust.”
A rule or law of nature, or the basic idea on how the laws of nature are applied.
“The Pauli Exclusion Principle prevents two fermions from occupying the same state.”
“The principle of the internal combustion engine”
A fundamental essence, particularly one producing a given quality.
“Many believe that life is the result of some vital principle.”
A source, or origin; that from which anything proceeds; fundamental substance or energy; primordial substance; ultimate element, or cause.
An original faculty or endowment.
To equip with principles; to establish, or fix, in certain principles; to impress with any tenet or rule of conduct.
typical of a particular person, place, or thing
“he began with a characteristic attack on extremism”
a feature or quality belonging typically to a person, place, or thing and serving to identify them
“certain defining characteristics of the school emerge from the study”
the whole number or integral part of a logarithm, which gives the order of magnitude of the original number.
a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning
“the basic principles of justice”
a rule or belief governing one’s behaviour
“she resigned over a matter of principle”
“struggling to be true to their own principles”
morally correct behaviour and attitudes
“a man of principle”
a general scientific theorem or law that has numerous special applications across a wide field.
a natural law forming the basis for the construction or working of a machine
“these machines all operate on the same general principle”
a fundamental source or basis of something
“the first principle of all things was water”
a fundamental quality determining the nature of something
“the combination of male and female principles”
an active or characteristic constituent of a substance, obtained by simple analysis or separation
“the active principle of Spanish fly”