handicap

1 of 2

noun

hand·​i·​cap ˈhan-di-ˌkap How to pronounce handicap (audio)
-dē-
1
a
: a race or contest in which an artificial advantage is given or disadvantage imposed on a contestant to equalize chances of winning
b
: an advantage given or disadvantage imposed usually in the form of points, strokes, weight to be carried, or distance from the target or goal
2
a
: a disadvantage that makes achievement unusually difficult
b
sometimes offensive : a physical disability

handicap

2 of 2

verb

handicapped; handicapping

transitive verb

1
a
: to give a handicap to
b
: to assess the relative winning chances of (contestants) or the likely winner of (a contest)
2
: to put at a disadvantage

Example Sentences

Noun His shyness was a handicap in his job. She's been practicing a lot and her handicap has gone down from 18 to 12. Verb It's very hard to handicap the election at this point. the baseball player's small size did not handicap him in the least
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
In 1936, famed Olympic runner Jesse Owens raced a horse in a 100-yard dash and won thanks in part to a 40-yard handicap). Emily Barone, Time, 19 July 2017 LNK classes have done everything from installing handicap doors at Redwood to creating a Healthy Newborn site for Transitions that serves mothers going through addiction recovery. Brent Cooper, Cincinnati.com, 17 July 2017 A vehicle was blocking the handicap ramp Tuesday in the first block of Taft Street. The Aegis, 14 July 2017 Participants must be 21 years old or older and have an official USGA handicap. Naperville Sun, 7 July 2017 When Britain leaves the EU, British financial services companies would lose the automatic right to operate in all the other 27 EU states, a big handicap. Washington Post, 23 June 2017 One man, who has a handicap, had to escape through a window, according to media reports. Robert A. Cronkleton, kansascity.com, 21 June 2017 With a USGA 1.3 handicap, Mercer is a latecomer to golf, having taken it up in 2005 at the end of his freshman high school year at Gary (Ind.) Roosevelt. Gregg Voss, chicagotribune.com, 29 June 2017 These are just a few examples of the many companies that have excelled by treating transparency not as a handicap, but as a competitive advantage. Sophie Bakalar, Fortune, 24 June 2017
Verb
But Paytm still faces serious regulatory headwinds, which could handicap its growth. Megha Mandavia, WSJ, 9 Nov. 2022 One former Republican Senate aide said that Fetterman's communication struggles alone are enough to significantly handicap him as a senator. Tyler Olson, Fox News, 26 Oct. 2022 Zewde spoke of social norms that handicap women in business and related fields as a result of which leadership becomes concentrated in men. Alexander Onukwue, Quartz, 12 Sep. 2022 If enforced, which some traders and analysts doubt, the measures would significantly escalate efforts to handicap Russia’s economy. Joe Wallace And Anna Hirtenstein, WSJ, 29 Aug. 2022 Big daily reversals have become the norm recently as Wall Street struggles to handicap how aggressive the Fed will be. Damian J. Troise, BostonGlobe.com, 3 June 2022 But de-platforming users is not a long-term solution -- and in some cases may handicap law enforcement and intelligence analysts seeking to understand fringe group messaging. Byjohn Cohen, ABC News, 21 May 2022 That uncertainty has sent Wall Street through jagged up-and-down jolts as investors struggle to handicap how much economic damage omicron will ultimately do. Damian J. Troise And Stan Choe, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Nov. 2021 That uncertainty has sent Wall Street through jagged up-and-down jolts as investors struggle to handicap how much economic damage omicron will ultimately do. Damian J. Troise And Stan Choe, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'handicap.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

obsolete English handicap, a game in which forfeit money was held in a cap, from hand in cap

First Known Use

Noun

1751, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1789, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of handicap was in 1751

Dictionary Entries Near handicap

Cite this Entry

“Handicap.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/handicap. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

handicap 1 of 2

noun

hand·​i·​cap ˈhan-di-ˌkap How to pronounce handicap (audio)
1
: a race or contest in which competitors with different levels of ability are given an artificial advantage or disadvantage to equalize chances of winning
also : the advantage or disadvantage given
2
a
: a disadvantage that makes progress or success difficult
being lazy was a handicap
b
sometimes offensive : a physical disability

handicap

2 of 2

verb

handicapped; handicapping
1
: to give a handicap to
2
: to put at a disadvantage

Medical Definition

handicap

noun

hand·​i·​cap ˈhan-di-ˌkap How to pronounce handicap (audio)
1
: a disadvantage that makes achievement unusually difficult
2
sometimes offensive : a physical disability

Legal Definition

handicap

noun

han·​di·​cap
: a physical disability (as a bodily impairment or a devastating disease)

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