1. A physical, mental, or emotional condition that interferes with an individuals normal functioning.
2. Reduction in a persons capacity to fulfill a social role as a consequence of an impairment, inadequate training for the role, or other circumstances.
3. 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; as, the handicap was five seconds, or ten pounds, and the like.
4. 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.
Origin: From hand in cap; perh. In reference to an old mode of setting a bargain by taking pieces of money from a cap.