Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Costa Rican Slang: Pachuco y Tiquismos

I've been here for around eight and a half months now in Costa Rica and my Spanish has improved tremendously. I can pretty much communicate with anyone in any given situation sin problema.

Playa Samara, siempre tranquila

Still I don't feel like I'm fluent, and I really want to continue my study of the language - especially more vocabulary and the complex verb tenses (subjunctive and perfect tenses). I do study occasionally at home when I have the time - I'll sit down and open up the dictionary or check out verb conjugations I've been meaning to look at. But hanging out with the locals has made one thing for sure - I've learned a ton of Tico Slang, or Pachuco as they call it here. It's a lot of fun to use, and it definitely makes me feel like less of a foreigner, but this stuff is puro tico, which means most of it only functions here in Costa Rica, so if I go traveling to other Latin countries, I'll be back to square one with the word on the street...

Below is a list of some of my favorite and most popular Tiquismos. This is mostly for those of you who speak Spanish, or people who are coming here or living here now. The only one I can't seem to figure out is why the men say "Adios!" when a pretty girl passes by. It's like saying goodbye when you mean to say hello...don't you want to invite the girl to come talk to you? Or are you just sending her on her way? Maybe boys are just stupid;)

Al chile? - Seriously?

Qué me dice? - What do you say? or What's up?

Que es la vara? - What's the deal?

Solo bueno! - Only good! or It's all good!

Póngale! - Hurry up!

Buena nota - A “cool” person

Nada que ver! - Nothing to see! or No big deal!

Zaguate - A womanizer (literally a mutt or a street dog)

Pura vara! - Lies!

Un pichazo - A large blow or a huge hit of something

Que dicha! - How great!

Por dicha - Fortunately

Profe - A teacher

Blanco - A cigarette

Chinga - A cigarette butt

Jetón - Liar

Me presta una teja? - Lend me a buck?

Que vacilón! - How fun!

Viejo verde - A dirty old man

Zarpe - The last drink or one for the road

Como amaneció? - How did you wake up or how do you feel this morning?

Jueeeeee...puta! - daaaaaaamn! or son of a bitch! (comes from hijo de puta or hijueputa)

Upe! – Hello, is there someone there? Anybody home?

Que despiche! - What a mess! or What a good time!

Que quería, galleta María? - What do you want, a cookie?

Meter yucas - To tell lies

Media naranja - Your better half, or perfect mate

Estar puros dieces – To feel great (literally to be at pure tens)

Agarrar el mensaje - To get the hint or idea

Clavo - A problem (literally a nail)

No se monte! - Don’t mess with me!

Tumba la vara! - Stop bothering me!

Hay gente para todo – There is a fool for everything

Vaya busca brete! - Go get a job!


View from Punta Islita

In other news, Semana Santa provided a nice week of vacation, with perhaps a little too much guaro (that's the Costa Rican National Liquor, but the word is also used to refer to any form of alcohol in general). The trip to Samara was wonderful - a stunning drive (on the QUAD!) through country roads with beautiful ocean views and stops at secluded beaches. It was great to see my good friends there and the fiestas civicas were in full effect when we arrived - rodeos every night, amusement rides, street style tico food, and a mix of fun music ranging from musica ranchera (traditional Guanacasteco) to salsa and merengue, and of course a good bit of reggae and reggaeton...gotta love it!

Fiestas Civicas, Samara 2010

Back in Montezuma and Mal Pais, the full moon party/live reggae night at D&N (aka Tabu) last Monday was a blast! I spent the next three days recuperating, reorganizing, and planning for my April classes. It felt great to actually not leave Cabuya for a few days...super tranquilo! I took solo walks along the beach and cleared my head a bit after what felt like a month of non-stop action and fun. Now it feels good to be starting back with classes, although it seems attendance may be dropping a bit (I was warned many times about this). Finally found some speakers for my iPod (they were actually only ten bucks!) so I will be incorporating some music and listening activities soon.

Marisol & I at the Rodeo

Amigos Ticos in Samara

Happy April everybody!


  1. These slang phrases are colorful. Great. Just started brushing up my schoolgirl Spanish and teaching my boy to roll his Rs and say por favor y gracias.

    I'd love to think I could throw in one of these for fun. Not holding my breath, however.

    Thanks again for the delightful accounts of your days.

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  3. mae la vdd no estoy seguro la gente dice "Adiós" las viejas ricas que van por la calle :S Yo no soy de los que hace eso pero sí lo he escuchado.

  4. hey! 'adios' is also used as a greeting if someone's just passing by and you aren't going to stop and chat. it's definitely preferable to 'psst psst macha macha'.. haha.. great site =)

  5. Here is an app with Costa Rican idioms!

  6. jjj el 'adiós' es una forma de coqueteo.