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HomeArts & CultureLearning Costa Rica Spanish for expats and tourists: Part 7

Learning Costa Rica Spanish for expats and tourists: Part 7

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, 4, 5 and 6 of our Tico Talk series on tiquismos or costarriqueñismos.

Ready for Part 7? Here you go, my friends!

Costa Rican Slang, Part 7

Atravesar el caballo: To change the subject in the middle of a conversation.

Cartucho: This word actually means a cartridge, but in Costa Rica it is sometimes slang for the city of Cartago.

Chema: Slang for a shirt. 

Con el moco caído: To be sad. 

Con toda la pata: Perfect or great.

Cuero: A woman with a bad reputation. Cuero usually means leather.

Dar en el clavo: To hit the nail on the head (figuratively). 

Doña: Wife or girlfriend. 

Echar el cuento: To persuade or to seduce a woman. Echar el caballo or Echar el ruco also means to seduce.

Lucas: Crazy. Loco/a is the more recognized term for crazy.

Mala nota: A bad situation or person. 

Mentarle la madre: To call someone an S.O.B.

Pajoso/a: a person who is all talk.

Polo/a or maicero/a:  Is a country person or hick (offensive). 

Quedarse como en misa: To be very quiet, like during a religious service.

Rulear o Echarse un rol: Means to sleep. Dormir is to sleep in “proper” Spanish.

Yodo: Actually means iodine, but in Costa Rica is slang for coffee. Echase un yodazo is to drink coffee.

¡Toque!: Hurry up! ¡Apuráte! Is also used.

Tiquismos or Costa Rican expressions of the week:

Buscar el sol que más calienta: To look for a better option or situation. 

Despedirse a la francesa: To leave without having the courtesy to say goodbye to someone.

¿Cómo está el arroz?: How are things going? ¿Cómo está la cosa? Is also used.

No quitar el dedo del renglón: To stick to our guns, persist in our efforts or to not budge an inch.

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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