Meaning of in principle in English:

in principle

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  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The town council says it supports the plan in principle, but says there could be problems finding a suitable location.’
    • ‘Last month, they said they were mindful to approve the development in principle but wanted amended plans.’
    • ‘Members approved the ideas in principle, and agreed they would like another report on progress in July.’
    • ‘The signatories have agreed on this in principle and now the bartering over the detail continues.’
    • ‘Councillors agreed to recommend the development in principle, subject to funding being found.’
    • ‘It is understood that agreement has been reached in principle, and that only terms remain to be finalised.’
    • ‘This agreement is only in principle and nothing has been committed to paper yet.’
    • ‘Councillors have agreed the sale in principle and the proposals are set to go out to consultation before a final decision is made.’
    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. 1.1Used 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’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's right in principle that businesses whose customers cause a mess should be held responsible for clearing it up.’
      • ‘That the class should fit the pupil rather than vice versa sounds great - in principle.’
      • ‘Electronic voting is a good idea in principle, provided it's done right.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This all seemed a great idea in principle but of course the numbers don't work.’
      • ‘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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