Useful Slang & Expressions
For a country the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of idioms, street slang, and country-specific vocabulary. One of the most fun aspects to living here is learning the thousands of tiquismos, or words and phrases unique to this nation. Here is a useful list of expressions that can be heard in everyday conversation:
Chepe (cheh-pay) - Affectionate slang word for San Jose.
Chineado(a) (cheen-ay-ah-do) - Spoiled. As a verb, chinear also means to cuddle.
Chunche (choon-chay) - Thingy. This is especially convenient if you forget name of something. "Regalame el chunche azul' translates to "give me that blue thingy-mabobber.'
Con gusto (con goo-sto) - You're welcome. Costa Ricans say this instead of "de nada,' which is commonly used in other Spanish speaking countries.
Disculpe (dis-cool-pay) - Excuse me. Useful if you need someone to move out of your way.
Macho(a) (mah-choh) - Technically means blond, but Costa Ricans use this to describe any light skinned person. It also means "guy," in the sense of being a man. (Derived from machismo, of course!)
Mae (my) - Dude.
Porfa/por favor (poor-fah)- Variations of the word "please.' Porfa is most commonly used in Guanacaste.
Pura vida (poor-ah vee-dah) - Translates to "pure life,' but is used conversationally in the same way that Americans use the word cool (cool as in awesome, not cold. It is also used to say thank you, you're welcome, how are you?, I'm great, etc.
Que chiva! (kay chee-vah) - How neat/ cool!
Regalarse (ray-gah-lar-say) - To give. Other countries use "dar,' but Costa Ricans like to shake things up. "Regalame una agua' translates to "give me a water.'
Rico (ree-koh) - Delicious (used in relation to food or sex appeal). It's also used to describe things that bring pleasure, like a "masaje rico" is a great massage.
Tico/a (tee-koh) - A Costa Rican male or female.
Tuanis (too-ahn-ees) - Said to be a Spanish adaptation of "too nice," this popular phrase means "cool."
Upe! (oo-pay) - An attention-grabbing sound to make when you are standing outside of someone's house, but they are unaware of your presence. It is similar to "yoo-hoo!' or "is anybody home?'