American English

Definition of handicap noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable, uncountable] (becoming old-fashioned) (sometimes offensive) a permanent physical or mental condition that makes it difficult or impossible to use a particular part of your body or mind synonym disability Despite her handicap, Jane is able to hold down a full-time job. mental/physical/visual handicap Which Word?disabled / handicapped Disabled is the most generally accepted term to refer to people with a permanent illness or injury that makes it difficult for them to use part of their body completely or easily. Handicapped is slightly old-fashioned and many people now think it is offensive. People also now prefer to use the word disability rather than handicap. The expression people with disabilities is often preferred to the disabled or disabled people because it focuses more on the person and less on the disability. Disabled and disability can be used with other words to talk about a mental condition:mentally disabled learning disabilities If someone’s ability to hear, speak, or see has been damaged but not destroyed completely, they have impaired hearing/speech/sight (or vision). They can be described as visually/hearing impaired or partially sighted:The museum has special facilities for blind and partially sighted visitors.
  2. 2[countable] something that makes it difficult for someone to do something synonym obstacle Not speaking the language proved to be a bigger handicap than I'd imagined. In a job like this, lack of experience is no real handicap.
  3. 3[countable] (sport) a race or competition in which the most skillful must run further, carry extra weight, etc. in order to give all those taking part an equal chance of winning; the disadvantage that is given to someone you are competing against in such a race or competition
  4. 4[countable] (in golf) an advantage given to a weaker player so that competition is more equal when they play against a stronger player. It is expressed as a number related to the number of times a player hits the ball and gets lower as he/she improves. He plays off a handicap of 5.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: handicap

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