Ask An Iranian - How should I not say no to an Iranian? - "Noch" is the word for the sound that indicates no to Iranians

Iranians are not ones for saying no, but occasionally when they do say no, they don’t actually say no. Having said that, they will either be polite with you while not saying no or will be impolite with you when indicating no. This is because Iranians, like others around the Middle East, will indicate no, with a “noch”.

“Noch” is an onomatopoeia describing the sound made by Iranians when responding with a no to a yes/no question. This negative response is mostly accompanied by the raising of eyebrows and/or heads along with a slight pouting of lips while making a single click sound.

In this episode, we teach you how not to say no to an Iranian, by teaching you how to use “noch”. We also walk you through the accompanying gesture while also playing listener examples of “noches” in all their wet juicy glory. Lastly, we let you know when and where to use a “noch”, so you can either look cute or avoid looking rude.

Questions we also get answers to in this episode

  • What onomatopoeias exist in the Persian language?
  • Does the Persian language have click consonants?
  • Did the Shirazi people invent the “noch”?
  • What’s an NFT and can I get one in Iran?
  • How will an Iranian respond if you click at them?

Two simple steps on how to successfully do the Persian “noch”

  1. Raise both eyebrows simultaneously (if you have a monobrow, raise that)
  2. Bring your tongue to the roof of your mouth, suck and release to make a click-like sound

Three ways to “noch”

  1. THE NORMAL “NOCH” – As described above. This style is your default
  2. THE NONCHALANT “NOCH” – As described above, but performed more slowly, and with a slight lift of the head. This style will be used in situations where you want to convey that, “unfortunately, it’s a no”
  3. THE NON “NOCH” – As described in the previous, but without sound. This style will be used by you in situations where you have the authority

Two top tips on when not to “noch”

  1. Avoid using a “noch” in a formal setting
  2. Avoid using a “noch” when you mean yes

Translation of Persian (Farsi) words used in this episode

PersianEnglish translation
Koloft:“Thick” – used in the episode to imply the person is a thug
Ferferi:“Curly”, as in hair
Aab daar:“With water”, or wet
Bichaareh:“The poor”, “helpless”
“a” appearing alone, will be pronounced as a short-a — double ‘aa’s are long, as used in the word “water”

Image credit: “Noch” written in Persian, design by Ask An Iranian.