To get off on the wrong foot

  • Cada quien jala para su saco – people look out for their own interests
  • El Buenpa – short for Buen Pastor which is a local jail for woman.
  • Empezar con la zurda – to start off  on the wrong foot
  • Echarle el pico a alguien – to squeal  or tell on someone
  • Estar pa el tigre – to be I bad shape
  • Gato negro – a jinx or bad luck. It literally means a black cat.
  • Jalar el mecate – to be strict
  • Joyita or angelito – a criminal. Caco is also used
  • Pegarse un ride – to take a spin or drive
  • La Peni – prision
  • Pochotón- a healthy or strong person
  • Puris – short for the mountain town of Puriscal
  • Recetarle leñazos – to beat someone


  • Venderse a alguien – to sell out to someone. Vender el alma al diablo (sell your soul to the devil) is the same thing.

A Big Blow

  • Apagafuegos – fireman. Bombero is the correct word.
  • Arrear – to hit or punish
  • Cada quien jala para su saco – people look out for their interests
  • Choco bola or pepino – other names for a soccer ball.
  • Echar al pico – is to tell or squeal on someone. Delatar or echar al agua are also used.
  • Empezar con la zurda – to start off on the wrong foot
  • Estar en baño María – to be sweating  or worried about something.
  • Gato negro – a black cat or something that brings bad luck
  • Maricucha – is marijuana. Mecha, yierba, mota and monte are also slang for marijuana.
  • Ponerle la firma – you can count on something to happen
  • pulseándola – means to work hard
  • Puris – short for the mountain town of Puriscal
  • No jalar mucho el rabo a la ternera – Don’t bother someone or you’ll pay the consequences.
  • Riendazo – any type of a big blow or collision
  • Trompazo – is a head-on collision. Choque frontal is also used.


Your gear shift box

  • Batir barro – is to take a 4-wheel vehicle off road in muddy conditions. Batir barro literally means to beat or stir mud like you would beat an egg or cake batter.
  • Cachete – is a cheek but can also refer to a buttocks.
  • Como pulpería del pueblo – to be well-stocked like a mom and pop corner store. This phrase also refers to a woman with outstanding physical attributes.
  • Cuatro Plumas – slang for the Cacique brand of guaro which is type of local liquor made from sugarcane. Cuatro Plumas literally means four feathers and refers to the indian’s headdress on the label of a bottle of Cacique.
  • Doc – short for doctor just as in English
  • Echarse un tamarindo – to drink an alcoholic beverage
  • Gato casero – someone who performs an inside job (robbery)
  • Hospi – short for hospital
  • La caja de cambios – literally means the gear shit box of a vehicle but in Costa Rican it is slang your lungs
  • Lágrima – a tear but it can also be a rock or boulder.
  • Llorar a moco tendido – is to cry inconsolably
  • Puñal – is a knife but is also used to describe a person who is a backstabber.
  • Recetar – is to prescribe medicine but it can also mean to deal drugs or sentence someone to period in jail

cacique guaro cuatro plumas

An A-Z guide to Costa Rican football slang

Watch the World Cup final like a Tico

The final mejenga (“match”) of the World Cup is set for Sunday afternoon. While La Sele (“Costa Rica’s national team”) won’t be playing, you can still watch the game like a Tico with our handy Spanish guide to football slang in Costa Rica.

That way you’ll know exactly what to say when Germany’s Miroslav Klose scores on ajupita (“header”) or when Lionel Messi makes the game-winner with a chilena (“bicycle kick”). Expect a lot of great plays from all the cracks (“star players”) on the field. And don’t forget to scream ¡Lo pintó de rojo! (“Give him a red card”) at your TV if a caballo (“a rough player”) makes a dirty play.

Is that a piscinazo? Netherlands’forward Arjen Robben vies with Costa Rica crack Cristian Gamboa, during La Sele‘s quarterfinal loss in the World Cup on July 5. AFP


  • Abrir la cancha (“To open the field”) – To kick the ball towards the sidelines to make the playing field wider in order to better guard a team’s attack.
  • Acariciar el esférico / la bola (“To caress the ball”) — To kick the ball with a gentle touch; to have great ball control.
    • Ex. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best players in the world because he can acariciar el esférico so well.
  • Ariete — A forward; a striker.
  • Arquero — A goalie.
  • Barrida – A slide tackle.
  • Bicicleta (“bicycle”) — When the player makes a distracting movement with one leg, but takes the ball with the other.
  • Caballo (“horse”) – A rough player.
  • Cancerbero – A goalie; named after “Cerberus,” the mythological 3-headed dog that guarded the entrance to the underworld.
  • Chilena – A bicycle kick.
    • Ex: “A chilena by Raúl Jiménez saved Mexico’s life during World Cup qualifying.”
  • Comerse la cancha (“To eat up the field”) – When a player is running up and down the field the whole match with little time to rest.
  • Crack – A great player.
  • El uno-dos (“The one-two”) — A play where one player passes the ball to a teammate and he returns it immediately to the same player.
  • Jupa/jupita — A header.


  • La voló — To kick the ball over the goal.
  • La Sele/La Tricolor — Costa Rica’s national team.
  • Le dió al mundo (“To kick the earth”): To kick the ground instead of the ball.
  • Le dió con la de palo — To kick the ball with the weaker leg.
  • Mamón (“Sucker”) — A player who takes the ball and runs with it to the opposite goal without making a single pass to any of his teammates. Then the player immediately loses the ball on the other end; a ballhog.
  • Mano a mano (“Hand-to-hand combat”): When a player faces the goalie one-on-one.
  • Marco — Goal.
  • Mejenga – Used for pick-up football matches, but also applies to any match.
  • Milpa (“a cornfield”) — Offsides.
  • Patea más un pollito/perico en una bolsa — When a player kicks a ball too weakly to score.
  • ¡Píntelo! (“Paint him”) – Give the player a yellow card or red card for a foul.
  • Piscinazo — A dive.
    • Ex. “The Netherlands’ Arjen Robben is notorious for his piscinazos.”
  • Planchetazo – To kick an opponent using the studs of one’s cleats.
    • Ex. “Portugal’s Pepe is a caballo who has committed some infamous plachetazos.”
  • Repartir bizcocho — To play roughly.


  • Sacar agua del barco/bote (“To remove water from the boat”) — When a defender kicks the ball in any direction just to keep it far from the goal.
  • Salir a cazar mariposas (“To catch butterflies”) — When the goalie jumps to catch a ball and fails.
    • Ex. “A compilation of goalies saliendo a cazar mariposas.”
  • Sombrero — To pass the ball over the opponent’s head; also known as “baño.”
  • Se echó la pata al hombro — When a player misses the ball and swings his leg in the air.
  • Tacos — Football shoes, also cleats.
  • Tapada/tapadón (“covered”) – A great save by a goalie.
    • Ex. “Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas made had some great tapadas on Lionel Messi when the two met in Spain’s league.”
  • Taquito – A heel pass.
    • Ex: “Costa Rica scored its first-ever World Cup goal on a taquito from Claudio Jara to Juan Cayasso against Scotland in 1990.”
  • (Un) Túnel — To pass the ball through an opponent’s legs; called “nut megging” or a “panna” in English.
    • Ex. Germany’s Miroslav Klose uses un túnel to get by a Swedish defender.
  • Volar lima — A rough play.
  • Zaguero – The defense.
  • Zapatazo – A powerful kick.


  • Andar con el ruedo suelto is to have the runs or diarrhea.
  • Blanco  is slang for cigarette.
  • Carbonear -s to add fuel to the fire. Echar leña al fuego means the same thing.
  • Champú  literally means shampoo but is also refers to person who doesn’t have good hygiene.
  • Empericado is to be “high” on cocaine. Perico is slang for cocaine (cocaina).
  • Estar en cola de venado means that something is difficult.
  • Fiebrazo is a soccer fanatic.
  • Fofo is the nickname for Rodolfo (Rudolph)
  • Miércoles literally means Wednesday but is a less offensive way to express mierda which is “shit” in Spanish.
  • No arrugarse is to not back down in the face of something.
  • Pame is the nickname for the woman’s name Pamela
  • Revolcarse means to have sex
  • Trono is a throne or toilet just as in English.
  • Vapulear to hit or give someone a bearing. Dar una paliza is a synonym.
  • Volar coco is to think a lot. Coco is slang for head but really means coconut. We also say volar jupa.