Costa Rica Expressions

55 Costa Rica Expressions and Slang: Learn to Talk Like a Native

Costa Rica Expressions

Although Costa Rica is a small country in Central America, it has a lot of wonderful things to offer to everyone that lives in and visits this beautiful country. And like any country, Costa Rica has its fair share of slang words and expressions that the locals use to talk about anything from fruits at the store to the weather. These expressions and colloquial vocabulary give them a rich and varied language.

Here are the 55 very common Costa Rica expressions and slang words that you will hear or even learn to use when you are in Costa Rica and talking to the locals.

1. Coco

Bald, though it is used for “head,” as well. It also means “bogeyman.”

2. Concho

Rustic, without manners, sullen.

3. ¡déle!

Expression used to ask someone to go ahead or, in a fight, to throw a punch.

4. Dolor de huevos

We say “pain in the neck”; they say “pain in the balls.”

5. Espeso

Its standard meaning is “thick,” as in thick gravy. It is slang for “difficult” or “problematic.” It’s interesting that the word peso in Spanish means “weight,” and pesado means “heavy,” literally, but also “dull,” “tiresome” or “clumsy,” while pésame is an expression of condolence and pesadilla is a nightmare.

6. Fachento

Sloppily or badly dressed. It can also mean “snob.”

7. Fondillo

Rear end

8. Frito

Out of luck. It literally means “fried.”


Not very good.

10. Gato

Literally, “cat,” but it also refers to a person with green or sometimes blue eyes.

11. Goma

Literally, “rubber” (the substance) or “eraser.” In slang, it means “hangover.”

12. Guachimán

This comes from the English “watchman.” It usually refers to the guards who watch cars in the street.

13. Güila

Child, “kid”; also used among friends like our “dude”; and among guys as slang for a young woman.

14. Hablar paja

Literally, “to speak straw.” It means “to speak of nothing.” The expression pura paja is like our “bullshit.”

15. Harina

It means “flour,” and, like our “bread,” is slang for “money.”.

16. Hijo de papi/papá

Someone born into a rich family and who has been given everything.

17. Jalar

literally, “to pull,” but used in some interesting ways as slang. It means “to be going together” (as a couple). Jalarse la torta (literally, “to pull the problem”) means “to get pregnant when unmarried.” Moreover, Costa Ricans will often shout “¡Jale!” to say “Get out of here!”

18. Jugársela

To be able to handle something or to take a risk. Jugar means “to play.”

19. Jupa:

Head. Jupón, or “big head,” means “stubborn or closed person.”

20. Limpio

Literally, “clean,” but, not surprisingly, slang for “broke,” as in out of money.

21. Luna

This means “moon,” but, as in English, it is used to refer to moods. De luna means “in a bad mood.” Estar en la luna (“to be on the moon”) means “to be spaced out.” And, of course, the word lunático needs no explanation.

22. Levarla Suave

This translates literally as “to carry it soft.” It means “to take it easy.” By the same token, simply saying suave means “easy” or “have patience.”

23. Macho, Machito

In Costa Rica, this does not mean what you think. It refers to a person with light skin and hair, although macho also means simply “male.”

24. Mandarina

Literally, “tangerine.” It’s rather hilarious that it is slang for a defective car or “lemon.”

25. Mejenga

A neighborhood or local soccer game.

26. Mocoso

Mocos means “mucus” or “snot.” A mocoso is a brat or a snot-nosed kid.

27. Monchar

To Eat La moncha is “hunger,” and la monchis refers to post-marijuana munchies.

28. Mosca muerta

Literally, “dead fly.” It refers to a person who counterfeits innocence or weakness.

29. Mota

Marijuana or pot

30. Nota

This means either “note” or “grade” (in the sense of academic evaluation) in standard Spanish. In slang, it means “style” or “vibe.” Someone or something can be buena nota or mala nota.

31. Ojo or ojo al Cristo

Ojo means “eye.” There is also the expression Pele (peel) el ojo. All three expressions mean “watch out.”

32. Pachanga


33. Estar detrás del palo

Literally, “to be behind the tree.” In slang, it means “to be unable to understand anything.”

34. Paracaidista

Party crasher (literally, “parachutist”).

35. Pata

This word, which means “paw,” is not slang in itself, but it is the origin of many colorful expressions: mala pata (bad luck), pata caliente (a person who never stays home), patas arriba (disordered, in a mess), con toda la pata (great, in good health), estirar (to stretch), la pata (to die) and meter (put in) la pata (to commit an indiscretion, “to blow it”).

36. Pendejo

Cowardly or silly.

37. Picaflor

Literally, “it pierces flower.” It is a word for “hummingbird” that is not used in Costa Rica, but in slang refers to a man who goes from one woman to another. Other words for this are perro (dog) and mujeriego (from mujer, woman).

38. Pinta

A strange person, in a suspicious sense.

39. Platero

A person extremely interested in making money.

40. Polo

Hick. A polada is a hickish action.

41. Ponerse las pilas

Literally, “to put in ones batteries.” It means “to get going,” “to make more of an effort.”

42. Roco


43. Rojo, Rojito

A ¢1,000 bill, so-called because it is red.

44. Rubia

Literally, “blonde,” but in slang it means “beer.”

45. Salado

Literally, “salty.” It is slang for “unlucky.” In fact, there is a superstition that it is unlucky to have anything from the sea in the house.

46. Soplado

Very fast

47. ¡soque!

Hurry up!

48. Tanate

Large amount. It can also mean “big trouble.”

49. Tanda

Binge (liquor). It also refers to a showing, for example of a movie.

50. Tiquicia

Costa Rica (because of the appellation “Tico”).

51. Torta

In standard Spanish, this means “round cake,” like our word “torte.” It is also used to indicate an open-faced omelet (because it is round). Colloquially, it means “problem” or “boo-boo.”

52. Tuanis

Wonderful, “cool.”

53. Tucán

A ¢5,000 bill, because it has a picture of a toucan on it.

54. Viejo Verde

Lecher, “dirty old man.”

55. Zarpe

The last drink of the night.