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The term is Spanish and literally means "Hand to Hand" as in unarmed combat. However in its modern incarnation the term is used in any scenario where two (usually male) individuals are going to have some sort of competition. Eg Darts, Snooker, an actual fight, even videogames. It is rarely a serious threat.
"Come Hotshot think you can take me at Multiplayer goldeneye? Huh? Ok just you and me Mano a Mano"
by Jack Karch May 29, 2006
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A Portuguese expression to describe a fight between two people
Vamos andar Γ  porrada, tu e eu, mano-a-mano
by HistoriaViva September 10, 2018
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This expression could come either from italian or spanish, it literally means "hand to hand" and it is used to indicate an argue, a verbal fight between two people.
"I had a mano a mano with John yesterday, i hate when he talks to me like that."
"You and John should stop with those head to head discussions..."
by Tobeeto dudy flappucine March 24, 2017
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mano a mano; mano mano; man mano

As far as Italians are concerned these expressions (freely exchangeable) have only one use and meaning, the origin of which - most likely - has to do with the way in old times people used to measure short distances by using an open hand.
You put a hand widely open beside another end moving on as you take measures. From this habit in old times may have arisen the idea of following an event - shal we say - "step-by-step" (if you're measuring long distances) ... or similarly "hand-by-hand" (if you're measuring, say, a cloth or a stick of wood, etc.).
By extension, every time an Italian wants to mean following something very closely and at every new event uses this expression.
I mark on the wall my child's height as (mano a mano) he grows.
Segno sul muro l'altezza di mio figlio MANO A MANO che cresce.
I mark on the wall my child's height (continuosly) AS he grows.
by pino-il-siracusano November 03, 2018
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