Handicap

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.

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.

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.