We usually think of a goy defined to be a non-Jew. But there are other types of non-Jews, such as a ger toshav. Therefore, it seems to me that goy is a subset of non-Jew.

The Rambam defines "goy" as an idolator.

"...and any place we say simply 'goy', we mean an idolater." "וכל מקום שנאמר 'גוי' סתם, הרי זה עובד עבודה זרה..." - Hilchot Ma'achalot Assurot 11:8

However, bnei Yisrael is referred to as a holy nation, goy kadosh, and yet bnei Yisrael is not a nation of idolators. There is a contradiction in definitions of the word "goy" between the Torah and the halachah. That is why I'm asking what is the halachic definition.

Is this defintion by the Rambam the only definition? What is the halachic definition of goy?

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    I am not sure that "goy" is a halachic term to have a halachic definition. – mevaqesh Apr 13 '15 at 22:15
  • There are tons of halachot for goy in the Rambam. A Jew cannot rescue a dying goy, greet a goy, etc. Also, in Hilchot Melachim 10:12 there is a mutually exclusive juxtaposition showing the differences of a goy(a type of non-Jew) vis a vis ger toshav(another type of non-Jew). Shulchan Aruch says similar things: can't circumcise a goy, etc. – EhevuTov Apr 13 '15 at 22:16
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    It is true that halachot apply to goyim, but I am nit sure that "goy" has a precise halachic definition. Perhaps it means non-Jews broadly, and based on context may refer to particular sub-groups of non-Jews. However the exclusion of certain groups (such as geirei toshav) isnt necessarily because they are excluded from the technical category of "goyim", but rather because although they may be colloquially "goyim", they are not included for technical reasons. To reiterate, I am not sure that the term itself carries an exact technical definition rather than referencing non-Jews broadly, or... – mevaqesh Apr 13 '15 at 22:21
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    Any word can have different meanings in different places. Please cite an instance of the word where you want to know what it means in that context. – Double AA Apr 14 '15 at 5:16
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    Any text can define any word however it wants so long as it is consistent (and, for ease of usability, it defines explicitly any unusual conventions). – Double AA Apr 15 '15 at 23:05

I don't believe that there is a specific halachic status attached to the term "goy" as there are various definitions of this term, historically, as well as currently. I have summarized the definition / distinction:

Wikipedia outlines the history and usage of the term "goy". In Rabbinic terminology, it came to refer to Gentiles as a group. In modern language such as Yiddish and Hebrew it has come to refer to any individual non-Jew rather than the group collectively. Wikipedia states:

Maimonides defines "goy" in his Mishneh Torah as a worshipper of idolatry, as he explains, "Whenever we say "goy" literally, we mean a worshipper of idolatry" (Hilchot Ma'achalot Assurot 11:8

A Ger Toshav is:

a term in Judaism for a gentile living in the Land of Israel who observes the Noahide Laws and certain religious and cultural traditions under Jewish law and is therefore commonly deemed a righteous gentile (Hebrew: חסיד אומות העולם chassid umot ha-olam "Pious People of the World").

Based on these 2 definitions, except for the Maimonides one, the Ger Toshav would be a subset of the "goyim" group. If you used Maimonides definition,the Ger Toshav is not a "goy" since he is not an idol worshiper.

Halachically, then, the Ger Toshav follows the Noahide principles which, even "goyim" are supposed to do, anyway. The distinction, I don't think is in the halacha per se, but rather, which one of these is actually obeying what should be done.

See this related M.Y. question.

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