* Hadmut Danisch:

> The only precise definition I found is in a law dictionary where it is
> defined as a legal term.

The OED might also be helpful:

  B. [...] 2. a. A chief actor or doer; the chief person engaged in
  some transaction or function, esp. in relation to one employed by or
  acting for him (deputy, agent, etc.); the person for whom and by
  whose authority another acts.
  [...] 1962 H.O. Beecheno Introd. Business Stud. xiii. 117 Whereas an
  agent is not normally allowed to relend his principal's money at
  interest .. a bank is allowed to do this.  1976 Times 22
  Par. (Baltic Exchange Suppl.) p. i/9 The Baltic is unusual in being
  open both to middle men and principals.

I think this is a strong indication that the term is used in one of
its original meanings.  It also explained why nobody thinks it's
necessary to define it properly.

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