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Posted by Bruce Kahl on August 09, 2001

In Reply to: Handicap posted by Peter Maple on August 09, 2001

: I'm trying to find the Original meaning of the phrase, "cap in hand" (or possibly hand in cap.
: People in the disability movement think the origin of handicap is " cap in hand" ie begging and therefore derrogatory. Others say its "cap in hand" as in horse racing where originally jockeys had to hold their cap as a early "handicap". The Oxford Dictionary says, possibly "hand in cap" was an early game - pulling tokens or cards out of the hat - in a "sporting lottery"

Etymology: obsolete English handicap (a game in which forfeit money was held in a cap), from hand in cap

A game at cards not unlike loo, but with this difference:
the winner of one trick has to put in a double stake, the winner of two tricks a triple stake, and so on. Thus: if six persons are playing, and the general stake is 1s., and A gains three tricks, he gains 6s., and has to "hand i' the cap" or pool 3s. for the next deal. Suppose A gains two tricks and B one, then A gains 4s. and B 2s., and A has to stake 3s. and B 2s. for the next deal.

E. Cobham Brewer 1810-1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898