Principle and Principal

There has always been confusion as to how to use the words which are pronounced similarly. “Principle” and “Principal” are no exceptions to the rule. Many of us, usually find it hard to distinguish between the words mentioned above, which leads us to misuse these words.

For a deeper understanding, before we get into the definitions and the usage of the words, you must know this set of words falls under the category of homophones. Homophones are words which are spelled and pronounced similarly. Principle and Principal, Bought and Brought, Accept and Except; are some classic examples for homophones.

How to Differentiate between Principle and Principal

Once the difference and the definitions of words are cleared out, their usage becomes easy to understand. The words “Principle and Principal” may have similar spellings and similar pronunciations, but these words have remarkably different meanings.


“Principle” is used only as a noun. The word “principle” comes from the Latin word “principium,” which essentially means “origin” or “beginning” or “fundamental truth of something.” In other words, the word means a law or a standard for something or a rule. It is a base on which various conclusions or thoughts are based on. The word is also used to explain the basis of “morals” as well.


  • I am sorry I cannot do that, it goes against my principles.
  • “This subject won’t make sense to you if you do not understand the basic principles,” said the teacher.
  • Adam went out for a jog every day on principle.


The word “Principal” comes from the Latin word “prīncipālis,” which roughly means to be first or chief.  This word is primarily used as an adjective to state or to define something as important. The “something” defined by the word could be a person, a thing or an event. Alternatively, the word can be used to regarding payment aspects of interest and for describing the head or a person in power for an organization.


  • Mr. Singh has been chosen as the principal face of the movement.
  • Paris is one of the principal cities of art and fashion.
  • The interest on the principal sum is due every three months.

To Summarize:

  • Principal and Principle are homophones.
  • The word “principle” is used to describe a rule, standard, morals or law.
  • “Principle” is often only used a noun.
  • Principal is used to describe the importance of the subject in discussion.
  • The subject in the discussion could be a person, an event, an object or any other thing.