22

Similar to pissing contest - but not in an aggressive manner. Just each guy attempting to out talk one another to show they are the leader / in charge.

Sample sentence:

Well, that meeting was more of a X than being productive with Greg trying to show he was in control.

  • Please include more context and a sample sentence showing how you would use the word or phrase (put and X or ___ where the word would go). What other terms have you considered and why did they not suit your needs? – Roger Sinasohn Jun 27 '17 at 15:09
  • 5
    This is clearly a bro-down. – Patrick M Jun 27 '17 at 16:31
  • 2
    The word for that is probably guys. ;-) – Drew Jun 27 '17 at 17:56
  • 7
    What do you mean by "Similar to pissing contest - but not in an aggressive manner"? A pissing contest is no more "aggressive" than any other contest of comparison - unless you're pissing on each other perhaps, but that's not usually part of the metaphor. – talrnu Jun 27 '17 at 20:10
  • 2
    I like "waving their dicks around" but that's definitely aggressive. – Dave Jun 27 '17 at 23:53

17 Answers 17

49

posturing

  1. To assume a certain, often exaggerated body position; pose.
  2. To assume a certain attitude or behave in a certain way, especially to make an impression or gain an advantage: "They postured as Southern Loyalists to win the support of ex-Confederates" (James M. Smallwood).
  3. Zoology To assume a certain position of the body or of body parts, often as part of a display.
| improve this answer | |
  • This is exactly right. A male participates in posturing when trying to move to the top of the ranking within a group to be the alpha male - to be postured or positioned at the top. – user105360 Jun 27 '17 at 20:16
  • 5
    +1/-1 : Fits the title but not the context. – Mazura Jun 27 '17 at 22:17
  • 5
    in the sentence it would be "that meeting was more ~about posturing~ than about being productive ..." – Tom22 Jun 27 '17 at 22:35
  • 2
    or "... that meeting was more of an exercise in posturing than being productive..." – RIanGillis Jun 28 '17 at 12:59
42

An extremely crude term for this is a dick-measuring contest:

(vulgar, figuratively) A situation in which people (usually men) compete, often over superficial characteristics, to demonstrate their worthiness, power, etc.

This term would often be seen as insulting to the participants, and would not be used in formal speech.

| improve this answer | |
  • 11
    In British English, we would also use the phrase "willy-waving". – Graham Jun 27 '17 at 18:29
  • 16
    How about "comparative fallometry"? ;-) – sds Jun 27 '17 at 19:27
  • 1
    @Mike - that's mentioned in the question itself. – THiebert Jun 27 '17 at 22:20
  • 13
    @sds - Don't you mean "phallometry"? – WhatRoughBeast Jun 28 '17 at 2:32
  • 2
    @WhatRoughBeast yes, of course – sds Jun 28 '17 at 4:04
30

If you are looking for a term that wouldn't be considered too vulgar, you could try:

Battle of egos
"...used metaphorically to describe competitions that are based on pride and often entail prodigious and arrogant demonstrations of prowess."

[Wikipedia]

| improve this answer | |
30

Pissing contest chiefly US, informal + sometimes vulgar

  1. a competition between rivals to determine superiority, predominance, or leadership —called also pissing match

Source: Merriam Webster Dictionary.com

| improve this answer | |
22

You could use one-upmanship:

Well, that meeting was more one-upmanship than productive with Greg trying to show he was in control.

Here's the definition:

one-upmanship

NOUN

[mass noun]

informal
The technique or practice of gaining an advantage or feeling of superiority over another person.
‘the one-upmanship of who can get the best presents’

| improve this answer | |
9

My favorite would be phrases related to "assertion of dominance". Sorry it is not one word, but I think it fits nicely. (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/dominance)

Well, that meeting was more about asserting dominance than productivity with Greg trying to show he was in control.

If you do want a single word answer that is a bit more cultural, informal, and more specific to men, I use "machismo". (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/machismo)

Well, that meeting was more about machismo than productivity with Greg trying to show he was in control.

| improve this answer | |
  • +1 for machismo--with asserting dominance it's not clear (at least in this phrase) that it's (a) a group activity and (b) a waste of time. It could mean one person (including a woman) trying to take over, or it could mean "Thank goodness Boss finally got Officious Coworker under control!" – MissMonicaE Jun 28 '17 at 14:07
6

"Vying for" means competing or contending (for something):

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/vying

Vying for command/ control/ superiority

These folks are vying for command instead of doing anything constructive: the Board President should kick them off this ship, IMHO!

Other idioms with a similar meaning:

They have been having a real arm-wrestle in that boardroom, figuratively speaking!

The vice-presidents spent all afternoon jockeying for position.

Here 'arm-wrestle' used figuratively denotes a trial of strength (not by literally arm-wrestling, of course) and 'jockeying for position' means competitive manouvering to get into a position of influence/ power.

| improve this answer | |
  • +1 especially for arm-wrestle! This fits OP's requirement of not sounding genuinely aggressive. – MissMonicaE Jun 28 '17 at 14:08
  • @MissMonicaE Thank you! These are simple but stimulating questions with the added bonus of being free of the linguistic controversies generally seen here (i hope.) – English Student Jun 28 '17 at 14:44
4

Outdo

SAMPLE: Well, that meeting was more about Greg trying to outdo everyone than being productive.

The guys were busy trying to outdo each other.

It is challenging to work with men who are trying to outdo you.

Verb be more successful than. "the men tried to outdo each other in their generosity" synonyms: surpass, outshine, overshadow, eclipse, outclass, outmaneuver, get the better of, put in the shade, upstage; More

That was the initial return for a Google search for the term.

| improve this answer | |
4

chest beating:

  1. Doing an action for the sole purpose of being a show off

  2. Trying to outmatch someone else

Brotatoe 1: Bro! I can bench like 300 pounds.

Brotatoe 2: Dude! I can bench like 300 chicks!

Girl: Are you guys done chest beating? I would like to finish this game of Monopoly.

-- Urbandictionary.com

| improve this answer | |
2

Well, that meeting was more showing who's boss than being productive, with Greg trying to show he was in control.

Show someone who's boss

Phrase Informal

to show someone that you have more power or authority than they have

Macmillan dictionary

| improve this answer | |
2

In animals, this is known as lekking. I've heard this applied as a slang term to human males engaged in trying to best one another by showing off.

Dictionary.com:

lek

noun 1. a traditional place where males assemble during the mating season and engage in competitive displays that attract females.

verb (used without object), lekked, lekking. 2.(of a male) to assemble in a lek and engage in competitive displays.

| improve this answer | |
2

I believe the phrase you're looking for is strutting contest.

Well, that meeting was more of a strutting contest than being productive with Greg trying to show he was in control.

This comes as close as possible to what you describe:

Similar to pissing contest - but not in an aggressive manner. Just each guy attempting to out talk one another to show they are the leader / in charge.

See further the definition of strut:

strut verb

  • to walk with a vain, pompous bearing ... as if expecting to impress observers.

  • implies swelling pride or pompousness; to strut is to walk with a stiff, pompous, seemingly affected or self-conscious gait ... implies a domineering, sometimes jaunty, superiority or challenge, and a self-important manner.

| improve this answer | |
1

A crude but evocative phrase is Dick Swinging

As defined by the Urban Dictionary ...

Dick Swinging Contest

an ego laden interaction usually (although not always) involving men where each individual tries to out do the the other in knowledge and or acheivements. Often seen in corporate settings and family get-togethers

Fuck me! That was a waste of time. I actually thought we could get something done at this meeting. Instead it turned into a Dick Swinging Contest!

| improve this answer | |
1

Depending on the actual overall context, I'd personally go for something simple and down-to-earth like:

Power struggle

Which gives a sample phrase similar to:

Well, that meeting was more of a power struggle than being productive with Greg trying to show he was in control.

| improve this answer | |
0

Follow the more recent edit, if the meeting was more for the benefit of Greg, and not a general competition than you could describe it as an...

Ego trip /noun ,informal

  1. an activity done in order to increase one's sense of self-importance.

Source: Oxford English Dictionary.com

Well, that meeting was more of an ego trip than anything productive, with Greg just trying to show he was in control.

This would be particularly apt if Greg is not really challenged by, or if Greg called the meeting simply to demonstrate that when he calls a meeting everyone has to come.

| improve this answer | |
0

Unless you're specifically wanting to express masculine connotations, I would suggest competition. The main distinction between this admittedly more general term and many of the other (also appropriate) answers is the lack of association with gender stereotypes.

Further, it is a word (rather than expression) with a lot of grammatical flexibility, offering verb, (multiple) noun, adjective, and adverb forms. The choice of form can ease its pairing with additional clarification. (i.e. "the meeting was derailed by Susan and Greg competing for authority" or "the meeting became an unproductive competition of egos.")

| improve this answer | |
-3

I would use rutting (Cambridge):

relating to the period of the year during which particular male animals are sexually active

| improve this answer | |
  • 5
    The problem with that is that humans rutting more often refers to what happens later (Collins, Urban dictionary, which is more than normally useful here). – Chris H Jun 28 '17 at 9:38
  • 5
    If there's a group of guys rutting in the middle of a meeting, I'm calling building security. Actually, it doesn't have to be guys. – choster Jun 28 '17 at 14:43

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.