prin·ci·pal / ˈprinsəpəl/ • adj. 1. first in order of importance; main: the country's principal cities. 2. (of money) denoting an original sum invested or lent: the principal amount of your investment. • n. 1. the person with the highest authority or most important position in an organization, institution, or group: a design consultancy whose principal is based in San Francisco. ∎ the head of a school, college, or other educational institution. ∎ the leading performer in a concert, play, ballet, or opera. ∎ Mus. the leading player in each section of an orchestra. 2. a sum of money lent or invested on which interest is paid: the winners are paid from the interest without even touching the principal. 3. a person for whom another acts as an agent or representative: stockbrokers in Tokyo act as agents rather than as principals. ∎ Law the person directly responsible for a crime. ∎ hist. each of the combatants in a duel. 4. a main rafter supporting purlins. 5. an organ stop sounding a main register of open flue pipes typically an octave above the diapason. DERIVATIVES: prin·ci·pal·ship / -ˌship/ n.
A source of authority; a sum of a debt or obligation producing interest; the head of a school. In an agency relationship, the principal is the person who gives authority to another, called an agent, to act on his or her behalf. Incriminal law, the principal is the chief actor or perpetrator of a crime; those who aid, abet, counsel, command, or induce the commission of a crime may also be principals. In investments and banking, the principal refers to the person for whom abrokerexecutes an order; it may also mean the capital invested or the face amount of a loan.
A principal in the first degree is the chief actor or perpetrator of a crime. A principal in the second degree must be present at the commission of the criminal act and aid, abet, or encourage the principal in his or her criminal activity.
So principality principalship; territory of a prince. XIV. — OF. principalite; varying in ME. with principalte — OF. principalte (mod. principauté) — late L. principālitās. principate (-ATE1) XIV. — (O)F. or L.