Costa Rican Slang

-mae (my): Mae can be used to mean “dude” between friends, or simply to refer to any man or woman (“ese mae te esta llamando” = “that guy is calling you”).

-pura vida(poor-ah vee-dah): Pura vida means “pure life,” but more than anything, it’s a way of life. This phrase symbolizes the Costa Rican idea of letting things go, and simply enjoying life. Use it as an answer to “como estas?” (“how are you?”), or to say “thank you” or “you’re welcome.”

tico / tica(tee-ko/tee-ka): Due to a quirk of speech, Costa Ricans are called Ticos. Since Spanish uses gendered nouns, a Costa Rican man is a Tico, and a Costa Rican woman is a Tica.

Other Costa Rican Slang:

-100 (cien) metros (see-en met-ros): Always remember that “cien metros” means “one block.” Likewise, “doscientos (200) metros” means “two blocks,” and “cincuenta (50) metros”, “half a block” – all regardless of the actual length of the block.

-aguevado (ah-gway-va-doh): bored or boring (synonym of bostezo)

-apuntarse (ah-poon-tar-say): to sign up (for something, like a tour)

-bostezo (boh-stes-oh): bored or boring (a synonym of aguevado)

-brete (bre-tay): work or job

-como amanecio? (coh-moh ah-mahn-es-ee-oh): how are you this morning?

-chunche(choon-chay): thingamajig

-di/diay(dee/dee-ay): With no exact translation, diay is best thought of as an interjection at the beginning of a sentence, similar to “um” or “well.”

-dolor de jupa (dole-or day hoop-ah): a headache

-el chante (el chahn-tay): home (house); place

-estar de chicha(es-tar day chee-chah): to be angry

-estar de goma (es-tar day goh-mah): to have a hangover

-fijate/fijese(fee-hah-tay/fee-hey-say): Another phrase with no exact translation, this is best thought of as an interjection, approximately meaning “would you believe it?”

-guila(gwee-lah): Despite its meaning in Mexico, a guila in Costa Rica is merely a “girl.”

-hijueputa (ee-who-ay-poo-tah) (vulgar): son of a bitch

-la jama (lah hah-mah): food

-jamar (hah-marh): to eat

-jumas  (hoo-mahs): drunk

-la choza (lah choh-sah): home

-que mala nota! (kay mahl-ah no-tah): what a bad person!

-macha (mah-cha): a blond female, usually a foreigner

-mucho gusto (moo-choh goo-stoh): Translating directly as “[with] much pleasure,” Costa Ricans use this in lieu of “de nada,” or “thank you.”

-no entender ni papa (no en-ten-der nee pah-pah): to not understand a word

-no joda!/no jodás!(no hoe-da/no hoe-das): don’t bother me! / leave me alone!

-ojo! (oh-hoe): watch out!

-pura paja(poor-ah pa-hah): crap; bullshit

-pinche (peen-chay): Despite its meaning in Mexico, pinche means “stingy” in Costa Rica.

-por dicha(poor dee-chah): thank goodness

-pulperia(pool-pehr-ee-ah): a small corner store

-que m’iche? (kay mee-chay): what’s up? / what do you have to tell me?

-que pereza!(kay pay-ray-sah): ugh, what a drag! (synonym of “que tigra!”)

-que tigra! (kay tee-grah): ugh, what a drag! (synonym of “que pereza!”)

-salado (sahl-ah-doh): unlucky

-soda (soh-dah): a small, family-run typical restaurant

-soque!(soh-kay): hurry up!

-una teja (oo-nah tay-hah): Una teja is 100 of anything, usually money (100 colones). If someone is giving you directions, however, una teja refers to “100 meters,” or one block.

-tome chichi!(toe-may chee-chee): Though this phrase has no direct translation, it’s essentially a teasing form of “take that!”

-tuanis(too-ahn-ees): Said to be a Spanish adaptation of “too nice,” this popular phrase means “cool.”

-va jalando!(bah hahl-ahn-do): get out of here! / go away!

-la vara  (lah bar-ah): the thing

-upe! (oo-pay): hello? anyone home?

-vieras que/viera que (bee-air-ahs kay/bee-air-ah kay): Another Costa Rican idiom with no direct translation, “vieras que/viera que” means “sure”, in the sense of “I sure was surprised by his apology!” (“Vieras que sorprendida me dejo su disculpa!”)

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