principle

principle, axiom, fundamental, law, theorem are comparable when they denote a proposition or other formulation stating a fact or a generalization accepted as true and basic.
Principle applies to a generalization that provides a basis for reasoning or a guide for conduct or procedure
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the principle of free speech

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his remarkable grasp of principle in the remaining field, that of historical geography— Farrington

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the same hankering as their pious ancestors for a cozy universe, a closed system of certainties erected upon a single principleMuller

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the principle was established that no officer or employee . . . was entitled to any classified information whatever unless it was necessary for the performance of his duties— Baxter

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I do not mean to assert this pedantically as an absolute rule, but as a principle guiding school authorities— Russell

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Axiom can apply to a principle that is not open to dispute because self-evident and is usually one upon which a structure of reasoning is or may be erected
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the axioms of Euclidean geometry

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Perhaps more frequently the term implies a principle universally accepted or regarded as worthy of acceptance rather than one necessarily true
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the journalistic axiom that there is nothing as dead as yesterday's newspaper—G. W. Johnson

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the superficial commonplaces which pass as axioms in our popular intellectual milieu— Cohen

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Fundamental usually applies to a principle, but sometimes a fact, so essential to a philosophy, religion, science, or art that its rejection would destroy the intellectual structure resting upon it
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the fundamentals of scientific research

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developed the arch and other fundamentals of architecture— R. W. Murray

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what they deemed the fundamentals of the Christian faith— Latourette

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Law applies to a formulation stating an order or relation of phenomena which is regarded as always holding good
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the conquest of nature's procreative forces, through the discovery of the laws of agriculture and animal husbandry— R. W. Murray

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the laws of the rain and of the seasons here are tropic laws— M. S. Douglas

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it is a law that no two electrons may occupy the same orbit— Eddington

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Theorem applies to a proposition that admits of rational proof and, usually, is logically necessary to succeeding logical steps in a structure of reasoning
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theoretical economics puts the patterns of uniformity in a coherent system [of which] the basic propositions are called assumptions or postulates, the derived propositions are called theoremsLange

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the error that was to prove most durable of all, the theorem that only a very short land traverse would be found necessary from Missouri to Pacific waters— De Voto

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Analogous words: basis, foundation, ground (see BASE): *law, rule, canon, precept: *form, usage, convention

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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  • principle — prin‧ci‧ple [ˈprɪnspl] noun 1. [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 …   Financial and business terms

  • Principle — Prin ci*ple, n. [F. principe, L. principium beginning, foundation, fr. princeps, cipis. See {Prince}.] 1. Beginning; commencement. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Doubting sad end of principle unsound. Spenser. [1913 Webster] 2. A source, or origin; that… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • principle — I (axiom) noun accepted belief, adage, admitted maxim, article of belief, article of faith, assertion, assurance, basic doctrine, basic law, basic rule, basic truth, belief, canon, conviction, credo, declaration of faith, decretum, doctrine,… …   Law dictionary

  • principle — [prin′sə pəl] n. [ME, altered < MFr principe < L principium: see PRINCIPIUM] 1. the ultimate source, origin, or cause of something 2. a natural or original tendency, faculty, or endowment 3. a fundamental truth, law, doctrine, or motivating …   English World dictionary

  • principle — ► NOUN 1) a fundamental truth or proposition serving as the foundation for belief or action. 2) a rule or belief governing one s personal behaviour. 3) morally correct behaviour and attitudes. 4) a general scientific theorem or natural law. 5) a… …   English terms dictionary

  • principle — late 14c., fundamental truth or proposition, from Anglo Fr. principle, O.Fr. principe, from L. principium (plural principia) a beginning, first part, from princeps (see PRINCE (Cf. prince)). Meaning origin, source is attested from early 15c.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • principle — [n1] law, standard assumption, axiom, basis, canon, convention, criterion, dictum, doctrine, dogma, ethic, form, formula, foundation, fundamental, golden rule*, ground, maxim, origin, postulate, precept, prescript, principium, proposition,… …   New thesaurus

  • Principle — Prin ci*ple, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Principled}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Principling}.] To equip with principles; to establish, or fix, in certain principles; to impress with any tenet, or rule of conduct, good or ill. [1913 Webster] Governors should be… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • principle — /prin seuh peuhl/, n. 1. an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct: a person of good moral principles. 2. a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived: the principles of modern physics. 3. a fundamental… …   Universalium

  • principle — noun 1 basic general rule ADJECTIVE ▪ basic, broad, central, fundamental, general, underlying ▪ the basic principles of car maintenance ▪ b …   Collocations dictionary

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