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, auxiliary, or assistant.
(Law) (a) The chief actor in a crime, or an abettor who is present at it, -- as distinguished from an accessory. (b) A chief obligor, promisor, or debtor, -- as distinguished from a surety. (c) One who employs another to act for him, -- as distinguished from an agent.
3. A thing of chief or prime importance; something fundamental or especially conspicuous. Specifically: (a)
(Com.) A capital sum of money, placed out at interest, due as a debt or used as a fund; -- so called in distinction from interest or profit. (b)
(Arch. & Engin.) The construction which gives shape and strength to a roof, -- generally a truss of timber or iron, but there are roofs with stone principals. Also, loosely, the most important member of a piece of framing. (c)
(Mus.) In English organs the chief open metallic stop, an octave above the open diapason. On the manual it is four feet long, on the pedal eight feet. In Germany this term corresponds to the English open diapason. (d)
(O. Eng. Law) A heirloom; a mortuary.
Cowell. (e) pl. The first two long feathers of a hawk's wing.
J. H. Walsh. (f) One of turrets or pinnacles of waxwork and tapers with which the posts and center of a funeral hearse were formerly crowned.
Oxf. Gloss. (g) A principal or essential point or rule; a principle.
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Sat 20th April 2019