Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Handkerchief.

 Handicap.Handkerchief and Sword. 
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
The committee was at a loss to know whom next to throw the handkerchief to” (The Times). The meaning is that the committee did not know whom they were to ask next to make a speech for them; and the allusion is to the game called in Norfolk “Stir up the dumplings,” and by girls “Kiss in the ring.”   1

 Handicap.Handkerchief and Sword. 


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