Definition of in principle in English:

in principle

phrase

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

    ‘the government agreed in principle to a peace plan that included a ceasefire’
    • ‘The town council says it supports the plan in principle, but says there could be problems finding a suitable location.’
    • ‘Members approved the ideas in principle, and agreed they would like another report on progress in July.’
    • ‘Councillors have agreed the sale in principle and the proposals are set to go out to consultation before a final decision is made.’
    • ‘This agreement is only in principle and nothing has been committed to paper yet.’
    • ‘The signatories have agreed on this in principle and now the bartering over the detail continues.’
    • ‘Last month, they said they were mindful to approve the development in principle but wanted amended plans.’
    • ‘The plan was accepted in principle but the details for it were not.’
    • ‘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 agreed to recommend the development in principle, subject to funding being found.’
    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, it may not actually happen.
      ‘in principle, the banks are entitled to withdraw these loans when necessary’
      • ‘Although having a smoke free environment seems good in principle, how would it be enforced?’
      • ‘That may be a good point in principle but it's an irrelevance in practice.’
      • ‘That the class should fit the pupil rather than vice versa sounds great - in principle.’
      • ‘The first test here should be whether infinite computing power is, in principle, even possible.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This all seemed a great idea in principle but of course the numbers don't work.’
      • ‘However, he sees no reason to believe that a machine cannot, in principle, do the things humans can do.’
      • ‘This is a fine idea in principle, but providing high quality information is expensive.’
      in theory, theoretically, on paper, in an ideal world
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