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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.

History of the Term[edit]

The first recorded instance of the term NIMBY comes from a 1980 issue of the Christian Science Monitor[1], 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.[2] 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.[3]


"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.[4] 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]

  • Wind Turbine Syndrome
  • Emotional appeal
  • Nuclear power
  • Pork is in a sense the NIMBY principle in reverse.
  • Special pleading is a fundamental element of almost all NIMBY debates. "While I fully support the need for halfway houses, they should not be allowed in this neighborhood because of (some usually unquantifiable characteristic obvious only to the speaker)".