Costa Rica Slang Guide

We hope this Guide to the Costa Rica Slang can help you understand costarican spanish a lot better.

So you have decided to vacation in Costa Rica, first you need to be aware that Costaricans speak Spanish, but it is important to mention that Costarican schools offer English as one of the main subjects. Therefore some Costaricans have a small basic English vocabulary.

Even in most tourist towns, getting around shouldn’t be a problem.

But if you would like to get immersed in the culture and polish your Spanish I recommend for you to learn some of the native slang.

After awhile you will realize that Costaricans have a very funny way to communicate, and it is very different from Mexicans and puertoricans.

Here is a guide to the Tico Talk.

Tico: This is how Costaricans are popularly call across the world. The origin is from the fact that Costaricans used the word tico at the end of a lot of adjectives like chiquitico, gatico and so on. For Costaricans it is an affective way to describe small things.

Mae: A person you know and everybody else. You could use Mae as in dude or bro.

Pura Vida: Not just a life style, but a culture. It translates “Pure Life” which can be very relaxed, with no worries and peaceful. You can use Pura Vida as a greeting or to answer how are you.

Tuanis: Something very cool. It can be use as a feeling as well.

Casado: Typical dish, it consist of rice, beans, a picadillo, tortilla, a salad and a meat.

Soda: A small local restaurant that serves casados as other typical dishes.

Birra: This is how ticos say beer.

Guaro: Traditional alcoholic drink made with sugar cane. Some people might refer to it as “cuatro plumas” o cacique.

Goma: This basically means “hangover”

Jalar: This can be translated as “leave”. You can use this word in a sentence like “voy a jalar” which means “I’m leaving”.

Diay: It can be use as a greeting or as a “hey”. You can use it to say hello. “Diay mae”

Chunche: This is the way most ticos refer to things or belongings.

Vara: Anything can be a vara. It is used whenever you can’t remember the name of a thing.

Una teja: This is a 100 coin. It can also refer as a very nice person “ese mae es una teja” wich translates to “this dude is a very nice person”

Un rojo: Popular name for the 1000 colones bill.

Menudo: Pocket change. Any small coins left from a transaction.

Güila: You can use this word to refer to kids. Güila or güilas. This word is also use to refer to a girlfriend or a kid.

Despiche: Can be use to refer to a mess or a fight.

Chiva: Something very cool.

A cachete: A word Ticos use to describe something really good.

Brete: Any kind of job, work or labor.

Chante: A house, apartment or place to can e sometimes used for frequently visit spots.

Guachiman: A security guard.

Jama: Food, it can also be use as the verb to eat “jamar”

Buena nota: This word is use to describe a good person.

And if you would like to learn more terms and practice your Spanish here is a lonely planet guide to Costa Rica Spanish that we recommend.

Another way that you can get better with Spanish is by downloading and learning with the APP Duolingo. But the best way for you to improve your Spanish is to practice everyday.


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