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Costa Rica
Saturday, November 27, 2021

Learning Costa Rica for expats and tourists: Part 5

You can’t call yourself fluent in Costa Rican Spanish unless you understand its slang.

Over the past several weeks, we brought you Parts 1,2, 3 and 4 of our Tico Talk series on tiquismos or costarriqueñismos.

Here’s Part 5:

Abrirse: To go, leave or “split.” An expression used by young people.

Achaque: Symptoms of an illness.

Adiós: Is, perhaps confusingly, a greeting that people say when they pass by each other on the street and continue walking. Adiós typically means goodbye, which is the opposite of the Costa Rican greeting.

Acois: “Here.”

A culo pelado (vulgar): Naked. Chingo/a or chingoleto/a are also used here. Desnudo/a is the more common word for naked in Spanish.

A grito pelado: Shouting. Gritar means to shout.

A la par: Next to. Al lado de or junto a are the more common Spanish expressions.

A medio palo: To do something half-way or half-assed. A medias.

Agarrar volados: To learn from other people or take advice.

Animalada: An act caused by bad manners.

Apuntarse: To participante in something.

Arrancado/a: To be mad or angry.

Arrastrar: To repeat a class that someone has failed in school. Repetir or reprobar are more common Spanish.

Arrimado/a: a person who to lives or mooches off others.

Avispado/a: to be intelligent or sharp, like an avispa (wasp).

Tiquismos or Costa Rican expressions of the week:

A medias, ni mis medias: Not to do something half way, or ‘go halves’.

Armarse la gorda: To start a fight or ruckus.

Socarse la faja: To economize or try to save money. Literally to “tighten your belt.”

Christopher Howard has been conducting monthly relocation/retirement tours and writing retirement guidebooks for over 30 years. See He is also the author of the one-of-a-kind bestselling, “Guide to Costa Rican Spanish,” that can be purchased through Amazon.

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