We introduce an alternative definition of the main frequency of an ultrashort laser pulse - the principal frequency ωP. This parameter is complementary to the most accepted and widely used carrier frequency ω0. Given the fact that these ultrashort pulses, also known as transients, have a temporal width comprising only a few cycles of the carrier wave, corresponding to a spectral bandwidth Δω covering several octaves, ωP describes, in a more precise way, the dynamics driven by these sources. We present examples where, for instance, ωP is able to correctly predict the high-order harmonic cutoff independent of the carrier envelope phase. This is confirmed by solving the time-dependent Schrödinger equation in reduced dimensions, supplemented with the time-analysis of the quantum spectra, where it is possible to observe how the subcycle electron dynamics is better described using ωP. The concept of ωP, however, can be applied to a large variety of scenarios, not only within the strong-field physics domain.