"handicap" Definition

  1. an arrangement by which, in any description of sport, every competitor in a race is supposed to have a chance of winning equal to the chances of his opponents. HANDICAPPING, in horse-racing signifies the adjudgment of various weights to horses differing in age, power, and speed, so as to place them as much as possible on an equality. At other sports this equalization is managed by means of starts. The old game of HANDICAP (hand i’ the cap) is a very different affair; and, as it is now almost obsolete, being only played by gentlemen in Ireland, after hunting and racing dinners, when the wine has circulated pretty freely, merits a description here. It is played by three persons, in the following manner:—A wishes to obtain some article belonging to B, say a horse; and offers to “challenge” his watch against it. B agrees; and C is chosen as HANDICAPPER to “make the award”—that is, to name the sum of money that the owner of the article of lesser value shall give with it, in exchange for the more valuable one. The three parties, A, B, and C, put down a certain stake each, and then the HANDICAPPER makes his award. If A and B are both satisfied with the award, the exchange is made between the horse and watch, and the HANDICAPPER wins, and takes up the stakes. Or if neither be satisfied with the award, the HANDICAPPER takes the stakes; but if A be satisfied and B not, or _vice versâ_, the party who declares himself satisfied gets the stakes. It is consequently the object of the HANDICAPPER to make such award as will cause the challenger and challenged to be of the same mind; and considerable ingenuity is required and exhibited on his part. The challenge having been made, as stated, between A’s watch and B’s horse, each party puts his HAND into a CAP or hat [or into his pocket] while C makes the award, which he purposely does in as rapid and complex a manner as possible. Thus, after humorously exaggerating the various excellences of the articles, he may say—“The owner of the superior gold lever watch shall give to the owner of the beautiful thoroughbred bay horse, called Flyaway, the watch and fifteen half-crowns, seven crowns, eighteen half-guineas, one hundred and forty groats, thirteen sovereigns, fifty-nine pence, seventeen shillings and sixty-three farthings. Draw, gentlemen!” A and B must instantly then draw out and open their hands. If money appears in both, they are agreed, and the award stands good; if money be in neither hand, they are also agreed, but the award is rejected. If money be only in one hand, they are not agreed, the award is off, and the stakes go as already stated. Very frequently, neither A nor B is sufficiently quick in his mental calculation to follow the HANDICAPPER, and not knowing on the instant the total of the various sums in the award, prefers being “off,” and, therefore, “draws” no money. As in this event the HANDICAPPER gets the stakes, the reason for the complex nature of his award is obvious. When HANDICAPPING has once commenced in a convivial party, it is considered unsportsmanlike to refuse a challenge. So when the small hours draw on, and the fun becomes fast and furious, coats, boots, waistcoats, even shirts are challenged, HANDICAPPED, and exchanged, amidst an almost indescribable scene of good humoured joviality and stentorian laughter. This is the true HANDICAP. The application of the term to horse-racing has arisen from one or more persons being chosen to make the award between persons, who put down equal sums of money, on entering horses unequal in power and speed for the same race. So that the HANDICAP has ultimately come to be regarded as an arrangement of a purely business-like nature, by which means affairs, no matter how much they may differ in degree, may be arranged satisfactorily by all parties. The use of the word is spreading rapidly, and it has already a sense beyond that of mere sporting.
  2. to make even, as a Roland for an Oliver. Not long since in a pedestrian enclosure, a pugilist who had been specially retained on one side struck a member of the other party, who not being a fighting-man received the blow with apparent contentment. The injured person had, however, determined on being revenged, and about an hour afterwards he knocked the professional down with a big stick, using the words at the same time, “that HANDICAPS us” (that makes us even). The word is often used thus also: A man finding himself inferior to another at fisticuffs will, seizing a weapon, exclaim, “I’ll HANDICAP you,” _i.e._, I’ll bring you to my level (or “level myself up”) with this.

More About handicap

Position in the dictionary: 1590 of 4022 slang words.
Next words in the dictionary: handle, handling, handseller, hang out, hang up, hanging, hangman’s wages, hannah, hansel, happy-go-lucky
Previous words in the dictionary: hander, hand-saw, hand-me-downs, hand, hall, half-seas-over, half-rocked, half-mourning, half-foolish, half-baked

The Slang Dictionary's Entry for handicap

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