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NIMBY is an acronym for "not in my backyard." This is the term usually given to arguments from groups or individuals who demand a controversial development be built, as long as it is not built anywhere near where they live and work. NIMBY arguments generally follow requests for jails, necropolises, airports, highways, mass-transit lines, power plants, rehabilitation facilities (such as methadone clinics), sewage treatment plants, recycling centers, and affordable housing projects, but have been stretched to include corporations such as Wal-Mart. Varying levels of hypocrisy (most people use objectionable facilities but don't want them nearby) and bigotry (most often, wanting objectionable facilities put in poor neighborhoods) are often associated with the term.

One extreme case of hypocrisy was when a woman objected to the proposed placement of a pickleball court to be placed in an existing public playground, claiming that the court would create an "endless racket" and bring in a "flood of pickleball fanatics", depressing nearby home prices. As it turned out, the complainant is wealthy and owns her own private pickleball court in her yard across the street.[1]

The more extreme forms of NIMBY are racially-motivated, e.g., segregation, Jim Crow laws (including redlining).

History of the Term[edit]

The first recorded instance of the term NIMBY comes from a 1980 issue of the Christian Science Monitor[2], although it was then used in a way that suggested that others already knew the term. It was also used in a stand-up comedy routine by George Carlin.[3] The term and idea are not limited to one location or country, but instead seems to be a common sentiment.

Synonyms and similar terminology[edit]


"Not Against My Business or Interest" is a more abstract variation on this theme, in which someone is against a proposed regulation or plan because it could directly hurt one's business, despite being a good idea for the whole community.


"Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything". This is one of the most extreme groups of opposition to development or changes within a particular area. Opposition of this kind typically involves ill-thought out protests that, if taken to their logical conclusion, would mean that utilities, public housing, and other such "undesirable" development would be located in the middle of nowhere.[4]


"Yes In My Backyard". Exactly the opposite of NIMBY. It is used to describe groups who actively campaign in favour of particular developments going ahead. YIMBY is particularly useful when a community group forms to oppose the original NIMBY group.[5] Sometimes you get a third-tier group opposing this second organisation. The situation then tends to rapidly deteriorate into Judean People's Front territory.

See also[edit]