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If you live in New York or any other big city, you are Jewish. It doesn't matter even if you're Catholic; if you live in New York, you're Jewish. If you live in Butte, Montana, you’re going to be goyish even if you're Jewish. Evaporated milk is goyish even if the Jews invented it. Chocolate is Jewish, and fudge is goyish. Spam is goyish, and rye bread is Jewish. Negroes are all Jews. Italians are all Jews. Irishmen who have rejected their religion are Jews. Mouths are very Jewish. And bosoms. Baton-twirling is very goyish.
—Lenny Bruce[1]

Goy (גּוֹי) is the Hebrew word for "nation" (plural goyim, גּוֹיִים), and it appears numerous times in the Bible, usually in the phrase "goy kadosh", which directly translates to "holy nation".[2] In modern contexts, however, it refers to anyone who is not Jewish. Among Hebrew- and Yiddish-speakers the term is standard for referring to non-Jews, and has no racist or xenophobic connotations.[citation needed] English-speakers often regard the word as derogatory, and may employ the terms "gentile" or "non-Jew" instead. Google's dictionary defines the term as informal and derogatory.[3] The Oxford English Dictionary regards the noun as often pejorative, but not the adjective.[4]

While Jewish people in the diaspora often frivolously use the term, the term is often employed by cranks, antisemites, and conspiracy theorists to make Jewish people sound racist. If someone uses the term "goy" in an argument having to do with the Federal Reserve, Israel, Zionism, or any other possible crank magnet, chances are you are arguing with a racist lunatic and it is not worth continuing. If they use any variation on the anti-semitic cliche "Oy vey, the goyim know, shut it down!", then those chances shoot up to a near-certainty.

There is a recurring canard among conspiracy theorists and antisemites alike that the term "goyim" means "cattle" in Hebrew.[5][6] The actual Hebrew word for "cattle" is "bakar" (בָּקָר). As noted above, the word 'goy' translates to "nation", including that of Israel.

The term "shabbos goy" [note 1] refers to a non-Jew who does work for Jews that observant Jews are otherwise not allowed to do during the Sabbath due to religious restrictions.[7] Antisemites also often use the term to refer to people who are alleged to be doing the "dirty work" for the Jews.

See also[edit]


  1. "Shabbos" and "Shabbes" are the Yiddish equivalent of the Hebrew "Shabbat" (sabbath). Yiddish is spoken primarily by Ashkenazi Jews, who are often the specific target of antisemitic conspiracy theories.


  1. The Essential Lenny Bruce (1967) Ballantine Books.
  2. James OrrWikipedia, ed (1939). "Goiim". Grand RapidsWikipedia: William B. Eerdmans Publishing CompanyWikipedia. 
  3. “goy”. "google.com".
  4. goy, n. and adj., Oxford English Dictionary.
  5. "Is Israel a Racist Nation?". viewzone.com.
  6. "Jewish Talmudic Quotes - Facts Are Facts". rense.com.
  7. See the Wikipedia article on Shabbos goy.