Definitions

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

  • n. Sports & Games A race or contest in which contestants are given advantages or compensations to equalize the chances of winning.
  • n. Sports & Games Such an advantage or penalty.
  • n. A physical or mental disability. See Synonyms at disadvantage.
  • n. A hindrance.
  • transitive v. Sports & Games To assign handicaps or a handicap to (a contestant).
  • transitive v. To cause to be at a disadvantage; impede.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. 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.
  • n. The disadvantage itself, in particular physical or mental disadvantages of people.
  • n. 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.
  • n. An old game at cards. - Pepys
  • v. To encumber with a handicap in any contest.
  • v. To place at disadvantage.
  • v. To estimate betting odds.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. An old game at cards.
  • n. a physical or mental disability of the body which makes normal human activities more difficult or impossible.
  • n. any disadvantage that makes an activity more difficult or impossible.
  • transitive v. To encumber with a handicap in any contest; hence, in general, to place at disadvantage.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An old game at cards, not unlike loo.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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 WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

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

  • The main handicap is uncertain rainfall, with the occurrence at irregular intervals of very serious droughts.

    Conditions in South Africa

  • Of course, the other handicap is the tendency by some to associate ID theory with the idea that natural science has to be modified to admit supernatural explanations.

    A Very Odd Statement

  • In contrast, I seldom enjoy golf while I'm playing it - my handicap is my swing - but in between rounds I've spent a truly massively useless amount of my life thinking about golf, especially golf course architecture.

    Archive 2002-02-24

  • As you hear a penny clink inside the bowl and see the mound accumulate, you'll feel like the golfer whose handicap is dropping or the chess player whose rating is climbing toward master or grandmaster levels.

    David H. Hendrickson: Measuring Progress

  • Scobee, whose handicap is 0, which officially makes him a scratch golfer, is participating in the qualifying for the experience of playing in a big-time tournament.

    Jacksonville Jaguars Team Report

  • To me, Tyler's only plausible handicap is his lack of a reputation for brutality to keep him in power.

    What Did Pinochet Know that Cowen Doesn't?, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • I have seen video of a gal fall out of the slingshot .... she had some sort of hip issue (as in handicap) and she hung on to the seat belt while her friend held on to the collar of her shirt.

    The fair

  • Their biggest handicap is the inability to use their app as a universal reader.

    How Much Will You Pay for Online Comics? » Comics Worth Reading

  • Because that's how you honor someone whose greatest handicap is having no discernible personality whatsoever.

    Matt's TV Week in Review

  • BALDWIN: As for Jordan, the only time you'll hear him mention the word handicap is on the golf course.

    CNN Transcript Jul 26, 2009

Comments

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  • Classic contronym: advantage vs. disadvantage.

    January 31, 2007