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HomeArts & Culture15 Costa Rican Spanish Expressions for Tourists

15 Costa Rican Spanish Expressions for Tourists

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.

15 Costa Rican Spanish Expressions for Tourists

  1. Echarle el caballo, el cuento or ruco a alguien: To hit on someone sexually or make an advance.
  2. Echarse a alguien: To kill someone. Matar is the more common Spanish verb.
  3. Entretelones: What happens behind the scenes and to be kept a secret.
  4. Garúa or pelo de gato: Both words mean drizzle. Costa Ricans have dozens of words for varying amounts of rain! 
  5. Madrear: To insult someone.
  6. Mala fama or mala ficha: A bad reputation. Mala reputación may also be used.
  7. Meter un gol: Is to deceive someone. Also can be to impregnate a woman.
  8. Palabrear: To try and convince someone with a lot of words or talk. 
  9. Robar el mandado: To steal another’s girlfriend.
  10. Tope: A traditional horse parade. Check out some photos from previous years! 
  11. Vacilón: Is fun. Diversión is also used. Vacilar (verb) is to have fun or joke with someone.
  12. Volverse pura paja: To not keep one’s word or what one promises
  13. Encontrar la comba al palo: To find a solution to a problem. 
  14. Llegar con la lengua al hombro: To spread gossip.
  15. Levantar un falso: To slander someone. 

Christopher Howard has been conducting monthly relocation/retirement tours and writing retirement guidebooks for more than 30 years. See

He has a relocation/retirement blog and  is also the author of the one-of-a-kind bestselling e-book, “Guide to Costa Rican Spanish,” that can be purchased through Amazon.

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