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HomeArts & CultureLearning Costa Rica Spanish for expats and tourists: Part 9

Learning Costa Rica Spanish for expats and tourists: Part 9

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

Over the past several weeks, we have introduced you, dear reader, to tiquismos and costarriqueñismos as part of our “Tico Talk” series. Check out the previous installments here.

Tico Talk for expats and tourists: Part 9

Conchudo/a: A shameless person. Sin vergüenza or descarado/a mean the same.

Estuche: Slang for a soccer stadium.

Fulear: To fill something. The better-known Spanish verb is llenar.

Gato/a: A person with green, blue or light colored eyes.

Guayabas: Slang for eyes.

Machete: The tool of one’s trade (figuratively).

Pegar con cerca: To run into an obstacle (literally and figuratively).

Una Rubia: Slang for Costa Rica’s Pilsen beer. The term rubio/a means blonde in Spanish. Here we say macho/a for a person with blonde hair.

Salvar la tanda: To get out of a jam or trouble. Salir del apuro means the same thing.

Subírsele el apellido: Is to get angry. Enojarse or ponerse bravo/a mean the same thing.

¿Qué me dice?: How are you? or How’s it going?

Zocar: To hurry up. ¡Darte prisa! or ¡Apúrate! Are the same thing.

Tiquismos or Costa Rican expressions of the week:

Andar hasta el rabo hasta la mecha: To be drunk.

Dejar a alguien guindando: To leave someone in suspense.

A todo chancho gordo le llega su sábado: All things must end.

¡Qué buen toque!: What a good idea!

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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