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Tico Talk: 10 Costa Rican Spanish expressions for expats and tourists

January 11, 2021

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

Ten Costa Rican expressions for expats and tourists

Añejo/a: A person who has not bathed. Here is a related expression: Más vale tierra en cuerpo que cuerpo en tierra. It is better to have dirt on your body than to be under the ground (dead).

Caco: A criminal. The expression El/la pinta is also used for criminal in Costa Rica slang.

Cien metros or una teja: One block. Una teja is 100 colones and synonymous with one block. Cuadra is the “correct” word for a linear block. A manzana is a square block.

Estar jalando con alguien: To be dating or going out with a person.

Estar salado/a: To have bad luck. Más salado que moco de marinero is a similar expression. Tener mala suerte the more common way to express bad luck.

Gemelear: To copy or forge documents.

Jacha: A derogatory word for face. Pichel and tarro are also used. Cara or rostro are the more appropriate terms.

Jugarsela or se la juega: To know how to handle or manage something

Pasar por inocente como pan caliente: To be deceived or fall for something. Inocente or ingenuo mean naïve.

Echar la chayotera: To sign something, like a document or a check. Comes from the word chayote which is a succulent green pear-shaped tropical fruit that resembles cucumber in flavor.

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

He has a #1 relocation/retirement blog at: http://www.liveincostarica.com/blog,  is also the author of the  forthcoming 19th edition of “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.

 

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