Awesome Costa Rican Expressions You Need in Your Life

Esparza, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Esparza, Puntarenas, Costa Rica | © Ben Haeringer / Flickr
Jenn Parker

Costa Rica is a Spanish-speaking country in the southern part of Central America. While a large portion of the population, especially those involved in the tourism industry, speak English, the effort you make to speak Spanish will not go unappreciated. There are some truly awesome Costa Rican expressions that are a combination of helpful and funny, as well as being a great opportunity to fit right in with the locals. Here are some that you should definitely master before your trip.

While there are thousands of Costa Rican phrases and expressions, the following 21 offer a good introduction to some informal and conversational colloquialisms. While some expressions can be literally translated and understood, many don’t have a literal translation that gives their true meaning. In general, Costa Ricans are very friendly and love practicing their English with you while you practice your Spanish with them. If you test out some of these phrases while you are in Costa Rica, you will likely get a big smile from the locals.

Por dicha Thank goodness
Mucho gusto With pleasure
Como amaneció? How’s it going with you this morning?
Suave un toque Hold on a sec
Que pereza! – What a drag!
Mae Dude
Mi media naranja My soulmate (literally “My half an orange”)

Are you talking to us?

Lo tengo de la nariz I am madly in love (literally “I have it from my nose”)
A cachete Used to describe something good or beautiful, such as a sunset
Va jalando Go away
Buena nota A good, kind, trustworthy, or cool person
Más tico que gallo pinto More Costa Rican than gallo pinto (a famous Costa Rican dish)
Cada muerte de obispo Once in a blue moon (literally “Every death of bishop”)
Se cerró a llover It’s raining cats and dogs (literally “It was closed to rain”)

As tico as turtles

No se puede hace chocolate sin cacao You cannot build castles out of thin air (literally “You cannot make chocolate without cacao”)
Estoy hasta el jueves I am drunk (literally “I am until Thursday”)
Estoy de goma I am hungover (literally “I am glue”)
A cada chancho le llega su día Everyone’s time will come (literally “Every pig gets its day”)
A lo hecho pecho Frget the past (literally “A made chest”)
Adiós mis flores It was good while it lasted (literally “Goodbye, my flowers”)
Cada oveja con su parejaTo each his own (literally “Each sheep with his/her couple”)


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