Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A race or contest in which contestants are given advantages or compensations to equalize the chances of winning.
  • noun Such an advantage or penalty.
  • noun Usage Problem A physical or mental disability.
  • noun A disadvantage or inconvenience. synonym: disadvantage.
  • transitive verb Sports & Games To assign handicaps or a handicap to (a contestant).
  • transitive verb To cause to be at a disadvantage; impede.
  • adjective Handicapped.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An old game at cards, not unlike loo.
  • noun In racing and athletics, an extra burden placed upon, or a special requirement made of, a superior competitor in favor of an inferior, in order to make their chances more equal.
  • noun A race in which the supposed superiority of certain competitors is counterbalanced by penalties of additional weight, distance, or time imposed on them, or the inferiority of others is compensated by a certain amount of time or distance granted them in starting; any contest or competition in which an allowance of time or distance or other advantage is given to an inferior competitor: as, the Newmarket handicap.
  • Noting a contest in which certain competitors are handicapped: as, a handicap race or game.
  • To impose, as upon a competitor in a race or other contest, some disadvantage, such as a penalty of additional weight or distance or an allowance of a start or other advantage to an opponent.
  • Figuratively, to place at a disadvantage by the imposition of any embarrassment, impediment, or disability: as, handicapped by age, by inexperience, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An allowance of a certain amount of time or distance in starting, granted in a race to the competitor possessing inferior advantages; or an additional weight or other hindrance imposed upon the one possessing superior advantages, in order to equalize, as much as possible, the chances of success.
  • noun A race, for horses or men, or any contest of agility, strength, or skill, in which there is an allowance of time, distance, weight, or other advantage, to equalize the chances of the competitors.
  • noun obsolete An old game at cards.
  • noun a physical or mental disability of the body which makes normal human activities more difficult or impossible.
  • noun any disadvantage that makes an activity more difficult or impossible.
  • transitive verb To encumber with a handicap in any contest; hence, in general, to place at disadvantage.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An allowance of a certain amount of time or distance in starting, granted in a race (or other contest of skill) to the competitor possessing disadvantages; or an additional weight or other hindrance imposed upon the one possessing advantages, in order to equalize, as much as possible, the chances of success.
  • noun The disadvantage itself, in particular physical or mental disadvantages of people.
  • noun A race, for horses or men, or any contest of agility, strength, or skill, in which there is an allowance of time, distance, weight, or other advantage, to equalize the chances of the competitors.
  • noun obsolete, card game An old game at cards. - Pepys
  • verb transitive To encumber with a handicap in any contest.
  • verb transitive, by extension To place at disadvantage.
  • verb To estimate betting odds.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb attempt to forecast the winner (especially in a horse race) and assign odds for or against a contestant
  • noun something immaterial that interferes with or delays action or progress
  • verb put at a disadvantage
  • noun advantage given to a competitor to equalize chances of winning
  • noun the condition of being unable to perform as a consequence of physical or mental unfitness
  • verb injure permanently

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From obsolete hand in cap, a game in which forfeits were held in a cap.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From hand in cap, in reference to holding the game stakes in a cap.

Examples

Comments

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  • Classic contronym: advantage vs. disadvantage.

    January 31, 2007