Nov 14, 2014

Wordology, Handicap

The word handicap is known to originate from the old English trading game Hand-in-cap. The game was based on trading possessions, and proceedings would take place with the help of an umpire. The umpire had a responsibility to decide if the items were valued the same, and if not, he had to decide what the difference was. The two players then put the money in a cap. They had to place their hands in the cap and subsequently remove them either holding money or not, to show if they had accepted the terms of the deal.

Other uses for the word handicap include a condition that markedly restricts a person’s ability to function physically, mentally, or socially. The word also means a disadvantage imposed on a superior competitor in sports such as golf, horse racing, and competitive sailing in order to make the chance of winning more equal.