question about the word "handicap" (retarded)

Does anybody know where the word “handicap” (as in a retarded person) come from? It doesn’t have anything to do with being retarded…:confused:

According to my not very good dictionary, handicap refers to “Hand in cap” – the method of holding wagers during a contest. A handicap was originally a race in which an advantage or disadvantage was given to equalize the chance of winning.

This evolved into a term for a disadvantage, which was then attached to physical handicaps and mental handicaps

Snopes covered that.
In short: It comes from a three-person game popular in the 17th century where players exchanged items and a by-payment to compensate for the difference in value between the two things.

"the word “handicap” (as in a retarded person) "

I haven’t seen it used to describe a retarded person, because they are usually referred to as a retarded person.

I’ve heard retarded, metally challenged and mentally handicapped used.


mmkay, thanks. proved to be best way out again.

In the UK handicap is far more common than retarded, in fact to my ears retarded always sounds offensive and I have to remind myself when on the SDMB that usage differs in other countries.

In recent years handicapped has also fallen out of favour, learning disability is preferred.

Same thing in the U.S., it is more polite to say someone is “learning disabled,” “challenged,” etc. Calling someone “retarded” is generally somewhat perjorative.

‘Retarded’ is just a fancy dictionary-fan way of saying someone is ‘slow’. ‘Challenged’ is a bit of a PC label. Most people I know who have disabilities prefer to be called someone who has a disability, as opposed to someone who is disabled.

When I was working on legislation dealing with mentally handicapped people, the preferred term was “developmentally disabled”. It took a little while for me to be able to say that smoothly, but now I use that phrase as a matter of course. Many of the people with whom I was working were developmentally disabled, and that was the term they used.

Although organizations serving the developmentally disabled in the U.S. are called “Assocation of Retarded Citizens” or ARC, the term retarded is no longer regarded as appropriate, although it is retained for historical reasons (just as the NAACP retains the no longer appropriate word “colored” in their name).

Websites of various ARCs use the term “developmentally disabiliites”.