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 plan was accepted in principle but the details for it were not.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 town council says it supports the plan in principle, but says there could be problems finding a suitable location.’
    • ‘Councillors have agreed the sale in principle and the proposals are set to go out to consultation before a final decision is made.’
    • ‘It is understood that agreement has been reached in principle, and that only terms remain to be finalised.’
    • ‘Members approved the ideas in principle, and agreed they would like another report on progress in July.’
    • ‘This agreement is only in principle and nothing has been committed to paper yet.’
    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’
      • ‘However, he sees no reason to believe that a machine cannot, in principle, do the things humans can do.’
      • ‘It's right in principle that businesses whose customers cause a mess should be held responsible for clearing it up.’
      • ‘The first test here should be whether infinite computing power is, in principle, even possible.’
      • ‘This all seemed a great idea in principle but of course the numbers don't work.’
      • ‘That may be a good point in principle but it's an irrelevance in practice.’
      • ‘Electronic voting is a good idea in principle, provided it's done right.’
      • ‘This is a fine idea in principle, but providing high quality information is expensive.’
      • ‘Although having a smoke free environment seems good in principle, how would it be enforced?’
      • ‘That the class should fit the pupil rather than vice versa sounds great - in principle.’
      • ‘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.’
      in theory, theoretically, on paper, in an ideal world
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