Middle English, from Old English nēahgebūr (akin to Old High German nāhgibūr); akin to Old English nēah near and Old English gebūr dweller —
- Date: before 12th century
- 1 : one living or located near another
- 2 : fellow man
A neighborhood is a geographically localised community within a larger city, town or suburb. Neighbourhoods are often social communities with considerable face-to-face interaction among members.
In the words of the urban scholar Lewis Mumford, “Neighbourhoods, in some primitive, inchoate fashion exist wherever human beings congregate, in permanent family dwellings; and many of the functions of the city tend to be distributed naturally—that is, without any theoretical preoccupation or political direction—into neighbourhoods. Most of the earliest cities around the world as excavated by archaeologists have evidence for the presence of social neighbourhoods. Historical documents shed light on neighbourhood life in numerous historical preindustrial or nonwestern cities.
Neighbourhoods are typically generated by social interaction among people living near one another. In this sense they are local social units larger than households not directly under the control of city or state officials. In some preindustrial urban traditions, basic municipal functions such as protection, social regulation of births and marriages, cleaning and upkeep are handled informally by neighbourhoods and not by urban governments; this pattern is well documented for historical Islamic cities.