Definition of in principle in English:

in principle


  • 1As a general idea or plan, although the details are not yet established.

    ‘the government agreed in principle to a peace plan that included a ceasefire’
    • ‘Members approved the ideas in principle, and agreed they would like another report on progress in July.’
    • ‘Last month, they said they were mindful to approve the development in principle but wanted amended plans.’
    • ‘It is understood that agreement has been reached in principle, and that only terms remain to be finalised.’
    • ‘Councillors agreed to the scheme in principle, with the detail being delegated to planning officers.’
    • ‘Councillors have agreed the sale in principle and the proposals are set to go out to consultation before a final decision is made.’
    • ‘The signatories have agreed on this in principle and now the bartering over the detail continues.’
    • ‘This agreement is only in principle and nothing has been committed to paper yet.’
    • ‘The town council says it supports the plan in principle, but says there could be problems finding a suitable location.’
    • ‘Councillors agreed to recommend the development in principle, subject to funding being found.’
    • ‘The plan was accepted in principle but the details for it were not.’
    in general, on balance, generally, in essence, by and large, on the whole, all in all, in the main, all things considered, taking everything into consideration
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    1. 1.1 Used to indicate that although something is theoretically possible, in reality it may not actually happen.
      ‘in principle, the banks are entitled to withdraw these loans when necessary’
      • ‘That the class should fit the pupil rather than vice versa sounds great - in principle.’
      • ‘This all seemed a great idea in principle but of course the numbers don't work.’
      • ‘That's why many of us, even though we know it is a good idea in principle, don't have the time or energy to do it.’
      • ‘It's right in principle that businesses whose customers cause a mess should be held responsible for clearing it up.’
      • ‘Electronic voting is a good idea in principle, provided it's done right.’
      • ‘The first test here should be whether infinite computing power is, in principle, even possible.’
      • ‘Although having a smoke free environment seems good in principle, how would it be enforced?’
      • ‘This is a fine idea in principle, but providing high quality information is expensive.’
      • ‘However, he sees no reason to believe that a machine cannot, in principle, do the things humans can do.’
      • ‘That may be a good point in principle but it's an irrelevance in practice.’
      in theory, theoretically, on paper, in an ideal world
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