It might be a cultural question rather than a religious one: but גוי is used to describe a nation (including the nation of Israel), גר is used to describe a Non Jew living is Israel and נכרי is used to describe a non Jew.

Yet it seems as if the term גוי is the preferred term to describe a non Jew, why is that? (At least true in Yiddish and modern Hebrew)


1 Answer 1


"Goy" has acquired a negative connotation only in modern times. Nokhri (נָכְרִ) may also have a negative connotation. It can be used for “enemy” [Deut. 32:27], “stranger who speaks harshly” [Gen. 42:7], “outsider” (בֶּן־נֵכָ֔ר -- ben nekhar) [Gen 17:12], “alien gods” [אֱלֹהֵ֤י הַנֵּכָר֙ – elohei hanekhar] [Gen. 35:2] but also to harmless refugees, laborers, visitors or businessmen. I prefer just "non-Jew" myself.

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    So too Rabbi Yosef Karo who used אינו יהודי in the Shulchan Aruch.
    – Harel13
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 23:13
  • @Harel13, did he often? The Mishna Brura changed גוי and עכו"ם of previous editions to אינו יהודי.
    – Mordechai
    Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 22:10
  • @Mordechai That's what I remember from when I learned Hilchot Shabbat last year.
    – Harel13
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 11:26

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