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? Jun 27, 2017 at 15:09
  • 5
    This is clearly a bro-down.
    – Patrick M
    Jun 27, 2017 at 16:31
  • 2
    The word for that is probably guys. ;-)
    – Drew
    Jun 27, 2017 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, 2017 at 20:10
  • 2
    I like "waving their dicks around" but that's definitely aggressive.
    – Dave
    Jun 27, 2017 at 23:53

17 Answers 17



  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.
  • 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, 2017 at 20:16
  • 5
    +1/-1 : Fits the title but not the context.
    – Mazura
    Jun 27, 2017 at 22:17
  • 5
    in the sentence it would be "that meeting was more ~about posturing~ than about being productive ..."
    – Tom22
    Jun 27, 2017 at 22:35
  • 2
    or "... that meeting was more of an exercise in posturing than being productive..."
    – RIanGillis
    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:59

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.

  • 11
    In British English, we would also use the phrase "willy-waving".
    – Graham
    Jun 27, 2017 at 18:29
  • 16
    How about "comparative fallometry"? ;-)
    – sds
    Jun 27, 2017 at 19:27
  • 1
    @Mike - that's mentioned in the question itself.
    – THiebert
    Jun 27, 2017 at 22:20
  • 13
    @sds - Don't you mean "phallometry"? Jun 28, 2017 at 2:32
  • 2
    @WhatRoughBeast yes, of course
    – sds
    Jun 28, 2017 at 4:04

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."



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


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:



[mass noun]

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’


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.

  • +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!" Jun 28, 2017 at 14:07

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


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.

  • +1 especially for arm-wrestle! This fits OP's requirement of not sounding genuinely aggressive. Jun 28, 2017 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.) Jun 28, 2017 at 14:44


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.


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


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


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.



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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.")


I would use rutting (Cambridge):

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

  • 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, 2017 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, 2017 at 14:43

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