No menu items!


HomeArts & Culture10 Costa Rican Spanish expressions for expats and tourists

10 Costa Rican Spanish expressions for expats and tourists

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

Over the past months, 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 retired expats and tourists

  1. Costar un ojo de la cara: To cost an arm and a leg, or to require a lot of effort to achieve.
  2. Filo: Hunger. Hambre is the more common term.
  3. Dejar el ombligo enterrado: Reference to the place where a person was born.
  4. Guachos or guayabas: Both words are slang for eyes. The more common word is los ojosPelar las guayabas means to keep one’s eyes peeled.
  5. Paquete: Bull of lies.
  6. Pasar raspando: To scrape by. Costa Ricans also say, “Pasar dejando pelos en el alambre.”
  7. Pelar los dientes: To smile. Sonreír is the traditional Spanish word.
  8. Ser un saco de mañas: To have many bad habits.
  9. Donde el diablo perdió la chaquetaVery far away. Literally translates to “where the devil lost his jacket.”
  10. Ya vengo: I’ll be right there.

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

He has a #1 relocation/retirement blog at:,  is also the author of the “New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica — the official guide to relocation” and the  one-of-a-kind bestselling e-book, “Guide to Costa Rican Spanish,” that can be purchased through Amazon.

Weekly Recap

Latest Articles