As well, essential travel like going to work, going to school,
returning to a principle residence
and getting health care is exempt from these rules.
– CTV News, reporting on new BC travel restrictions
What struck me about this article on the roll-out of new travel restrictions in BC (limiting people to the boundaries of their Health Authority) (well, except for the exemptions) wasn’t the slight strangeness of them (I mean, do *you* know the boundaries of your Health Authority area? I sure don’t), anyway, what struck me was that phrase, “principle residence.”
I admit that I handle principal/principle much as I do bathroom glyphs: I always check the alternative before committing myself. And when I see another’s principal/principle usage seeming to be wrong, I don’t jump to condemnation. I pause. And then I condemn.
No, no, mindful of my own hesitation I merely note the error, if error it be. And this usage — principle residence — be an error.
A principle is a rule, a law, a guideline, or a fact. A principal is the headmaster of a school or a person who’s in charge of certain things in a company. Principal is also an adjective that means original, first, or most important. – Grammarly
That seems clear enough, doesn’t it? Even if we have to think about the different meanings of the nouns, principle is *never* an adjective. For that, we need principled.
It occurs to me that the energy consumed in choosing between principal/principle is pretty much time badly wasted. After all, what principal purpose is served, what principle is supported, by making people choose?
And so I have a modest proposal: Let us merge these words. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you . . .
1. a rule, a law, a guideline, or a fact
2. the headmaster of a school
3. a person who’s in charge of certain things in a company
adjective: original, first, or most important
We would save time and mental energy for more important things: after all, the correct use of principle is never truly the principal thing, is it? The intent would be clear from context, we could rest easy knowing that our usage was correct — because it could not be wrong — and we would add a little Old World flair to our speech.