Principal vs. Principle

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These two words appear more often confounding to most of us but they aren’t and the best way to remember them is framing the words into their mnemonics.

In my opinion, mnemonic-aids are the BEST OPTION to memorise words easily and fix them into your mind for long.

Now, what’s the difference between principal and principle? The principle is of principal importance. Here’s the background for these close cousins.

Principal is a French word derived from the Latin term ‘ principalis ‘ meaning “FIRST IN IMPORTANCE “. In English, it is initially referred to a ruler, but the word is also known to be associated with an amount of money on which interest is paid, because that sum is first in terms of priority and the interest (one hopes) is a relative small amount.

As soon as you hear the word principal , don’t you remember your school principal ….. Yes , in one sense it is used as the school head or the head of some association . Only about two hundred years ago did ”principal” came to be associated with education. The principal is often the head of a school. The word is still often used as an adjective, as in “principal violinist” or “principal consideration.”

In contrast the word ‘principle’ ,a spelling variant, originally meant “proposition or truth” and later “law of nature” and “rule of conduct”. And, unlike principal, it does not serve as an adjective except in the form of ‘principled’.

Prince and princess, and such derivatives as principality (princehood, or the country ruled by a prince), like-principal and principle, ultimately stem from the Latin word princeps, meaning “first”. That’s why, although prince and princess usually refer to children of a monarch, prince itself is sometimes designated as a king (though no parallel relationship between queen and princess exists.)

‘Princeps’ itself comes from primus, from which the English words prime, primer (pronounced with a long i when referring to an explosive cap and as PRIM-er when referring to a schoolbook), primary, and primate.

“Prima donna”, the first Italian lady singer, is originally referred to the principal female singer in an opera; because of the association of such personages with outsized egos, the term was borrowed as a synonym for an arrogant, demanding person of either gender. (Its synonym, diva, is also Italian and means “goddess”; that word is related to divine.)

“The principal is your pal”. Just think when you hear the word pal, don’t u remember the names Lakhanpal, Sohanpal, Ratanpal, kishorpal etc. So try to memorize it as if the people having these names are the head of your institution and so is the meaning of the word. Thus it is a venerable mnemonic that reminds us which spelling to use to refer to a person, but remember that, as mentioned above, principal can also refer to things as funds as mentioned above.
It is as simple as that.

Now try to associate these things with your real life and you will never forget the difference.

Note: The post is written by Ritambhara Kakkar.


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