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HomeArts & CultureTop 10 Costa Rican Spanish expressions for Tourists

Top 10 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.

10 Costa Rican Spanish expressions for Tourists:

  1. Botarse: To spend a lot of money. Gastar mucho dinero means the same.
  2. Chochosca: Money.
  3. Estar limpio/a or pelado/a: To be out of money or broke.
  4. Filo: Hunger. Hambre is the more common word for hunger.
  5. Estar frito/a: To be screwed or have no chance. Estar frito/a sin mantequilla is even worse — literally meaning “fried without butter.” 
  6. Jugársela: To work things out or manage to do something on one’s own. We often say se la juega.
  7. Regar veneno: To be dressed to kill or to dress to impress someone. 
  8. Como hormiga en popi: To be very happy.
  9. Estar como agua para chocolate: To be boiling mad.
  10. Ponerse Chúcaro: To become angry. The verbs enojarse or enfurecerse are used more frequently.

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 at: 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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