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The NonVerbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues

Swagger-Walk


I don't mean military courage, or civil courage, or any special kind of courage. I mean just that inborn ability to look temptations straight in the face--a readiness unintellectual enough, goodness knows, but without pose--a power of resistance, don't you see, ungracious if you like, but priceless--an unthinking and blessed stiffness before the outward and inward terrors, before the might of nature, and the seductive corruption of men--backed by a faith invulnerable to the strength of facts, to the contagion of example, to the solicitation of ideas. Hang ideas! --Joseph Conrad (Lord Jim, 1899)

Broadside display. 1. A slight or moderate exaggeration in the side-to-side movements of walking. 2. A usually masculine style of upper-body strutting. 3. A visual means of filling-up space or occupying a greater expanse of personal territory.

Usage: In greetings, a man may use the swagger-walk while approaching another man to demonstrate power, strength, and dominance. (N.B.: The swagger-walk is not generally used to greet a woman.) In a culturally elaborated version, African-American men may drag one foot and limp from side-to-side in a pimp strut. The swagger-walk may be seen as men enter taverns or bars, to show "attitude" before engaging in rituals of courtship.

Primatology. Our closest relatives, the great apes, show dominance by straightening and holding their arms away from the body as they swagger-walk from side to side.

Transexuality. "I never mind the swagger of young men. It is their right to swank, and I know the sensation!" (Morris 1974:83).


Media. The best-known human swagger-walker was John Wayne, in such movie classics as Rio Bravo (1959), The Alamo (1960), and The Green Berets (1968).
See also GOOSE-STEPSTOMP.

Drawing of "Showing My Nonverbal Side" by my son Aaron Huffman (copyright 2012 by Aaron M. Huffman)