mano a mano

[Spanish mah-naw ah mah-naw; English mah-noh uh mah-noh]
noun, plural manos a manos [Spanish mah-naws ah mah-naws; English mah-noh uh mah-nohz, mah-nohz uh mah-nohz] , for 1, 2.
1.
(italics) Spanish. a corrida in which two matadors alternate in fighting two or three bulls each.
2.
a direct confrontation or conflict; head-on competition; duel.
3.
being or resembling such a confrontation: a mano a mano struggle in the courtroom between two superb criminal lawyers.
4.
in direct competition or rivalry: a brash newcomer in tennis taking on the reigning champion mano a mano.

Origin:
< Spanish: on an equal footing, without advantage (to either of two contestants); literally, hand to hand

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

mano a mano
1970s, from Sp., lit. "hand-to-hand."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Many musicians cannot take the strain of going mano a mano with the same three people year after year.
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