Other forms: handicapped; handicaps; handicapping

A mental or physical disadvantage, such as blindness or a missing leg, is a handicap: something that disables you in some way. Handicaps can also be imposed artificially to even out the odds in sporting events.

A sporting handicap might be a faster horse carrying an extra weight, or a better golfer having a few strokes added to her score to make things more competitive. Sometimes fate imposes a handicap, as when bad weather handicaps your travel plans, or a strike handicaps the subway system. Handicap comes from the term hand in cap, an ancient British practice in which two bettors placed their money into a hat held by a neutral third party before a bet.

Definitions of handicap
  1. noun
    the condition of being unable to perform as a consequence of physical or mental unfitness
    synonyms: disability, disablement, impairment
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    bandy leg, bandyleg, bow leg, bowleg, genu varum, tibia vara
    a leg bowed outward at the knee (or below the knee)
    absence of an orgasm in sexual relations
    an impairment of language (especially speech production) that is usually due to brain damage
    disability of walking
    a disability that interferes with or prevents walking
    inability to stand due to muscular incoordination
    a condition of disability resulting from the loss of one or more limbs
    hearing disorder, hearing impairment
    impairment of the sense of hearing
    impairment of the sense of smell
    vision defect, visual defect, visual disorder, visual impairment
    impairment of the sense of sight
    descensus, prolapse, prolapsus
    the slipping or falling out of place of an organ (as the uterus)
    hypesthesia, hypoesthesia
    impairment of tactile sensitivity; decrease of sensitivity
    genu valgum, knock-knee, tibia valga
    an inward slant of the thigh
    pigeon toes
    disability in which the toes are turned inward; often associated with knock-knee
    bandy legs, bow leg, bow legs
    outward curvature of the legs
    a loss (or serious disruption) of organization in some system
    an abnormally downward position of the intestines in the abdominal cavity
    partial or total loss of sight without pathology of the eye; caused by disease of optic nerve or retina or brain
    visual impairment without apparent organic pathology
    (ophthalmology) faulty refraction of light rays in the eye as in astigmatism or myopia
    visual defect in which the shape and size of an ocular image differ in the two eyes
    distorted vision in which straight lines appear curved
    absence of the natural lens of the eye (usually resulting from the removal of cataracts)
    blindness, cecity, sightlessness
    the state of being blind or lacking sight
    color blindness, color vision deficiency, colour blindness, colour vision deficiency
    genetic inability to distinguish differences in hue
    diplopia, double vision
    visual impairment in which an object is seen as two objects
    abnormal downward or back placement of the tongue
    inability to walk
    claudication, gameness, gimp, gimpiness, lameness, limping
    disability of walking due to crippling of the legs or feet
    deafness, hearing loss
    partial or complete loss of hearing
    conduction deafness, conductive hearing loss, middle-ear deafness
    hearing loss due to problems with the bones of the middle ear
    auditory hyperesthesia, hyperacusia, hyperacusis
    abnormal acuteness of hearing due to increased irritability of the sensory neural mechanism; characterized by intolerance for ordinary sound levels
    nerve deafness, sensorineural hearing loss
    hearing loss due to failure of the auditory nerve
    absence of the sense of smell (as by damage to olfactory nasal tissue or the olfactory nerve or by obstruction of the nasal passages)
    lessened sensitivity to odors
    day blindness, hemeralopia
    inability to see clearly in bright light
    hemianopia, hemianopsia
    blindness in one half of the visual field of one or both eyes
    blindness in one fourth of the visual field
    a defect of vision in which objects appear to be distorted; usually due to a defect in the retina
    moon blindness, night blindness, nyctalopia
    inability to see clearly in dim light; due to a deficiency of vitamin A or to a retinal disorder
    damage to the retina resulting from exposure of the eye to the sun without adequate protection
    detached retina, detachment of the retina, retinal detachment
    visual impairment resulting from the retina becoming separated from the choroid in the back of the eye; treated by photocoagulation
    an isolated area of diminished vision within the visual field
    tunnel vision
    visual impairment involving a loss of peripheral vision
    descensus uteri, metroptosis
    prolapse of the uterus
    nephroptosia, nephroptosis
    prolapse of the kidney
    drooping of the upper eyelid caused by muscle paralysis and weakness
    prolapse of the end of the ureter into the bladder; may obstruct urine flow
    prolapse of the urethra into the vagina
    visual defect in which objects appear to have a yellowish hue; sometimes occurs in cases of jaundice
    type of:
    softness, unfitness
    poor physical condition; being out of shape or out of condition (as from a life of ease and luxury)
  2. verb
    injure permanently
    synonyms: disable, incapacitate, invalid
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    disable by cutting the hock
    type of:
    injure, wound
    cause injuries or bodily harm to
  3. noun
    something immaterial that interferes with or delays action or progress
    synonyms: balk, baulk, check, deterrent, hinderance, hindrance, impediment
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    albatross, millstone
    (figurative) something that hinders or handicaps
    something that hinders as if with bonds
    diriment impediment
    (canon law) an impediment that invalidates a marriage (such as the existence of a prior marriage)
    something that slows or delays progress
    obstacle, obstruction
    something immaterial that stands in the way and must be circumvented or surmounted
    anything immaterial that severely hinders or confines
    barrier, roadblock
    any condition that makes it difficult to make progress or to achieve an objective
    hang-up, hitch, rub, snag
    an unforeseen obstacle
    an obstacle that you are expected to overcome
    stymie, stymy
    a thwarting and distressing situation
    type of:
    a factor causing trouble in achieving a positive result or tending to produce a negative result
  4. verb
    put at a disadvantage
    synonyms: hamper, hinder
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    type of:
    disadvantage, disfavor, disfavour
    put at a disadvantage; hinder, harm
  5. noun
    advantage given to a competitor to equalize chances of winning
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    (games) a handicap or disadvantage that is imposed on a competitor (or a team) for an infraction of the rules of the game
    (golf) a handicap of zero strokes
    game misconduct
    (ice hockey) a penalty that suspends a player for the remainder of a game (but allows the team to send in a substitute for the suspended player)
    type of:
    advantage, vantage
    the quality of having a superior or more favorable position
  6. verb
    attempt to forecast the winner (especially in a horse race) and assign odds for or against a contestant
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    type of:
    influence in an unfair way




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