A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

What does the expression "mano a mano" mean?

January 5, 1996

Dear Cecil:

Ever heard the expression mono e mono? I thought it meant "one on one." My brother and his wife vehemently argue that it's spelled mano e mano and means "hand to hand." I think I'm right, but then again I'm only going by what the villain said to James Bond in The Man With the Golden Gun. The bad guy challenged Bond to a duel "mono e mono, one-on-one." Who's right? My brother and his wife or me?

Cecil replies:

None of you, which is par for the course. But they're closer than you, since all they did was misspell it. Mano a mano is Spanish for "hand to hand." Since hand-to-hand combat typically pits two individuals against each other, the expression is often understood to, but doesn't literally, mean one-on-one. My assistant, Little Ed, made a similar mistake. Having read about the testosterone-driven naming of Grand Teton mountain (look it up), he had for years a giddy idea of the meaning of tête-à-tête. Imagine his disappointment upon discovering it merely meant "head to head."

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Additions:

A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
By Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope! Your direct line to thou- sands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope? Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC.