What Does Peacocking Mean?

A peacock showing off its feathers.
Carrie King / EyeEm [ GettyImages ]

Like a male peacock uses his feathers to attract a mate, peacocking involves using a man's clothing and adapting his behavior in an over the top and flashy manner, for the purpose of attracting women -- but not necessarily a mate.

Where Did the Term Peacocking Come From?

I couldn't find an origin of the peacocking when used as a verb; while most dictionaries define it as a preening or display to garner attention, none that I encountered shared where the word originated.

Having written about dating and relationships for over a decade, I've found that most references start somewhere around The Mystery Method / Pick Up Artist (PUA) heyday, where a man that named himself Mystery used peacocking to explain to men how to (amongst other things) woo a woman. Most of the links and references I had in this article have long since gone awry, sadly. The few that do exist, I can't link to due to the graphic nature of the websites.

What is Peacocking, Exactly?

If you ever caught an episode of VH1's The Pickup Artist, you may have come across Mystery and his cohorts in all their glory: tight spandex pants, painted nails, feather boas, and flashy jewelry. For these gents, this kind of flamboyancy worked. 

In the "real world", I suggest that everyone wear something memorable and conversation-starting at my singles' events. I've had people show up in next-to-nothing, black tie wear, and with a balloon sculpture on their head. Others wore clothing indicative of their interests, such as a TV show or hobby. No matter what their choice, I asked that they wear something flashy, eye-catching, yet still embodying who they are. That's the whole point of peacocking: to stand out in a sea of others, while still being your beautiful self.

Notes About Peacocking

Peacocking isn't just about being outlandish or outrageous, it's about attracting attention in an appropriate manner for both individuals (the one(s) you are trying to attract and yourself) as well as for the venue (i.e. a coffee shop vs. a bar). Therefore, if wearing lots of flashy jewelry or piercings all over your face doesn't jive with your personality, it probably won't fly. The key is to use props and accessories in a way that mirrors who you are -- but amped up in order to stand out from the crowd.

Examples of Peacocking Used in a Sentance

  • The Seduction Chronicles has a great blog post and photo demonstrating the differences between good vs. bad peacocking.
  • "I think you're peacocking, with all that eye makeup on..." 
  • "Oh, look at you peacocking for the girls