Lobbying is the practice of trying to persuade government officials to act in a given way. More specifically, it refers to the practice of doing this through one on one conversations. In other words, it does not count as lobbying if you send a letter to your member of Congress. It does not count as lobbying if you hold a rally. It is only lobbying if there is an individual who is representing a given cause who goes and talks individually to a governmental official to try to influence that person.
The term “lobbying” first came to be used because the people who wanted to persuade members of governments would hang out in lobbies (there are different stories about which lobbies these were) waiting for officials to come by. They would then accost the officials and try to persuade them to take a certain action.
Lobbying is very controversial in the United States today because some people believe that it gives too much power to interest groups. The richest groups, it is said, are most able to get access to the governmental officials to lobby them.