- a race or other contest in which certain disadvantages or advantages of weight, distance, time, etc., are placed upon competitors to equalize their chances of winning.
- the disadvantage or advantage itself.
- any disadvantage that makes success more difficult: The main handicap of our business is lack of capital.
- Sometimes Offensive. a physical or mental disability making participation in certain of the usual activities of daily living more difficult.
- to place at a disadvantage; disable or burden: He was handicapped by his injured ankle.
- to subject to a disadvantageous handicap, as a competitor of recognized superiority.
- to assign handicaps to (competitors).
- to attempt to predict the winner of (a contest, especially a horse race), as by comparing past performances of the contestants.
- to assign odds for or against (any particular contestant) to win a contest or series of contests: He handicapped the Yankees at 2-to-1 to take the series from the Cardinals.
Origin of handicap
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Related Wordsbarrier, affliction, disability, drawback, obstacle, impediment, burden, hindrance, shortcoming, impairment, hinder, restrict, cripple, hamstring, impede, hamper, load, restriction, limitation, encumbrance
Examples from the Web for handicap
Unprepared, and a laughingstock because of his handicap, Yarvi is bullied on every front—even by his mother.A Fantasy Titan Invades the YA Kingdom
July 18, 2014
If the rest of us have had trouble catching up to Robespierre and crew, well, we are starting from a bit of a handicap.Why Deny the Obvious: Hollywood’s Backward Stance on Abortion
June 10, 2014
The handicap, after some needling back and forth, was fixed at eight strokes.Portrait of the Consummate Con Man
May 17, 2014
Otherwise, according to Mom, intelligence could handicap a woman.‘Tracing the Blue Light’: Read Chapter 1 of Eileen Cronin’s ‘Mermaid’
April 8, 2014
The last name is obviously a handicap, though perhaps not as much now as last cycle.The Governors Who Could Beat Christie
November 8, 2013
And the pinto, for all his courage, could not meet that handicap and beat it.Way of the Lawless
His imperial intelligence, however, was too heavy a handicap.The Man Shakespeare
Even Tillie's chicken and waffles failed against this handicap.K
Mary Roberts Rinehart
Lucretia's defeat in the Handicap had increased his despondency.Thoroughbreds
W. A. Fraser
I'll give you a brush, if you do, and a handicap into the bargain.Tom Swift and his Electric Runabout
- something that hampers or hinders
- a contest, esp a race, in which competitors are given advantages or disadvantages of weight, distance, time, etc, in an attempt to equalize their chances of winning
- the advantage or disadvantage prescribed
- golf the number of strokes by which a player's averaged score exceeds the standard scratch score for the particular course: used as the basis for handicapping in competitive play
- any physical disability or disadvantage resulting from physical, mental, or social impairment or abnormality
- to be a hindrance or disadvantage to
- to assign a handicap or handicaps to
- to organize (a contest) by handicapping
- US and Canadian
- to attempt to forecast the winner of (a contest, esp a horse race)
- to assign odds for or against (a contestant)
Word Origin and History for handicap
1650s, from hand in cap, a game whereby two bettors would engage a neutral umpire to determine the odds in an unequal contest. The bettors would put their hands holding forfeit money into a hat or cap. The umpire would announce the odds and the bettors would withdraw their hands -- hands full meaning that they accepted the odds and the bet was on, hands empty meaning they did not accept the bet and were willing to forfeit the money. If one forfeited, then the money went to the other. If both agreed either on forfeiting or going ahead with the wager, then the umpire kept the money as payment. The custom, though not the name, is attested from 14c. ("Piers Plowman").
Reference to horse racing is 1754 (Handy-Cap Match), where the umpire decrees the superior horse should carry extra weight as a "handicap;" this led to sense of "encumbrance, disability" first recorded 1890. The main modern sense, "disability," is the last to develop, early 20c.
- A physical, mental, or emotional condition that interferes with one's normal functioning.