It was the year 1650, and a new game was sweeping England. Far from the mundane reaches of tiddlywinks, this new game, called hand in cap, grew popular very quickly. It was named such because of what it entailed: people would put items in hats to trade, and a judge would make the cheapskate donor throw in extra money into the cap. Since in Shakespearean times, people adored putting apostrophes in weird places, this became known as hand i' cap. Eventually people forgot an n was supposed to be there in the first place and called it handicap. Since in the game, one person was put at a disadvantage, the handicap name came to be associated with disadvantages, and, metynomically, people with disabilities. This is sort of the antimatter version of a basket case: something innocuous coming to be associated with a physical affliction.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.