I was watching something and he was like mamamamama (ne?)

  • 1
    Can you describe the situation they were in? – Flaw Nov 19 '17 at 1:11

Strongly dependent on context. But as usual dictionaries are your friend.

  1. First explained case is


    Explanation: It's not perfect, but enough to be satisfied

    Example sentence 「まあまあな出来」: It's an acceptable feat/accomplishment.

  2. explained case is


    Explanation: Whatever the case, continue a certain thing first, before doing another. I guess 'anyway' is somewhat close.

    Example sentence 「あいさつはあとにして、まあまあお上がりください」: Don't mind the greeting for now, please come in first (lit. come up, which you use to say come in, since you usually climb the small staircase from the space where you take off your shoes).

  3. explained case is


    Explanation: Phrase that expresses the feeling of surprise or (lit.) that you didn't expect a certain thing.

    Example sentence 「まあ、こんなことして。」: Oh dear, doing these kind of things (Implied that the person spoken to did something the speaker did not expect).

  4. explained case is


    Explanation: Phrase used to calm or suppress the anger of the conversational counterpart (i.e. person the speaker speaks to).

    Example sentence 「まあまあそう言うな」: Now, now don't say such things.

Without any context it's hard to judge which case is yours since you can take any arbitrary number of まあs as is often done in colloquial speech. You should be able to understand from the explanations though which one was yours though.

Just my own opinion but in general the last one is the most common one. Where somebody is getting angry over something (or someone) and you try to calm him by saying まあまあまあまあ.

Note also that there is the case of まあね with usually only one まあ which is an 相槌{あいづち} (i.e. back-channeling expression).

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=Please calm down. Don't be so emotional, please.

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