All posts by Christopher Howard

About Christopher Howard

Learning the idiomatic expressions of another language will be a guide to understanding the humor and character of that culture. In case you don’t know, idiomatic expressions are common words or phrases used in place of direct speech. The individual words within the phrases don't correlate with their meaning. Each language has idiomatic phrases peculiar to it, making translations difficult for non-native speakers. Idioms can change within a single language, across borders or regionally within one country.

A stupid mistake

Batazo is an educated guess.
Botar el tapón is to get angry
Buche is slang for stomach. Estómago is the correct word.
Busazo is a bus crash
Caballada is a stupid act or mistake.
Chispa is intelligence.
Chorpa or taco mean jail in Costa Rica
Dar un filazo is to stab someone. The correct verbs are apuñalear, apuñalar or acuchillar.
Estar puras tejas is to feel great. This expression is a variation of estar puros cienes.
Ganarse los frijoles is to earn a living. Ganarse la vida is the correct expression.
Guachos or guayabos are slang for a person’s eyes. Los ojos is the correct word for eyes.
No hay quinto malo means, “If at first you do not succeed, then keep trying.”
Pique is a type of competition or a drag race. Hacerle pique is to compete.
Sacar caja or sacar pecho mean to show off.
Tirar chinitas is to insinuate something.
Ventolero is a strong wind
Volar coco is to think
Zafarle la tabla is to fire someone.

The Costa Rican Boogie Man

Bailar – to deceive, trick or swindle someone
Boletear – to give a traffic ticket to someone. Ponerle un party is more common
Cologallero – a person who searches for gold or a prospector. Orero is also used.
Dar un filazo – is to stab someone. Apuñalar is the correct term.
Estar puras tejas – is to be or feel great
Ganarse los frijoles diarios – to earn a living or “bring home the bacon”
Guachos or guayabos – slang for one’s eyes in Costa Rica. Los ojos is the correct word for eyes.
Guaro vaquero – used to describe a person who cannot handle alcoholic beverages or a so called “bad drunk”
Hacerle pique a – to compete against someone or something
Hombre del saco or Coco – the Costa Rican equivalent of the “boogie man”
La peri – the peripheral highway that almost encircles all of the entire San José area.
Le zafó la tabla – is to fire someone from a job
Sanfra or San Chico – short for the country’s many towns called San Francisco
Sobre– slang for bed but literally means envelope
Topador – a persona who sells stolen merchandise or a “fence”
Tortón – a huge error or screwup
Tu jacha me suena – your face is familiar

A tongue has no bones but it is strong enough to break someone’s heart

Artistas – literally means artists but is used to refer to clever criminals
Coronadeños – people who live in the town of Coronado or Coro as it is sometimes called
Dar color – to shame someone
Dar mala vibra – to give off bad vibes. Dar mala espina is also used to mean the same thing
El que a buen árbol se arrima, buena sombra le cobija – it is always good to have friends in high places
Jupa de agua – a flash flood
La lengua no tiene huesos – A tongue has no bones but it is strong enough to break someone’s heart
Ninis – refers to 18 to 27 year-olds who don’t work or study
¡Nombres! – No way!
Peluquear – to get a haircut
Picinazo – for a player to fake like he has been fouled in soccer or to take a dive in sports
Pochotón – a strong or healthy person
Ponerse águila – to be alerta
Sacarse la viuda – to hit your funny bone
Soyla – I am the person does a specific job or task.
Sudar tacacos – to sweat profusely
Tumbonazo –the robbery of a shipment of drugs from a gang which is perpetrated by a rival gang

To be Climbing the Walls

Angelito literally is an angel but in Costa Rica can mean a child or criminal
Arrugar el pichel is to frown or make a face
Bolados are advice or tips
Botar el tapón or destapar el tamal mean to reveal or uncover information like corruption
Chelo is short for the name Marcelo
Chotear is to make fun of someone
Deschingarse is to remove clothing.
Empujado/a is a person who works hard or has a lot of drive.
Guamazo is a big blow or hit
Lágrimas are large stones or boulders but literally means tears.
Marimba is not a musical instrument in this case but a lot of young brothers and sisters.
Meter un gol is to score in soccer or deceive someone
Perrera is a paddy wagon
Ponerse color de hormiga is when a situation becomes difficult
Subirse por las paredes is to be climbing the walls when one is upset
Tirar la Chinita is to say something indirectly about someone
Vaso de agua is an easy woman
Venado literally means a deer but can refer to the husband of an adulteress
Zarandear is to shake or push someone

An informal soccer game

A todo pulmón is to shout
Echarse or pegarse una mejenga is to play a pick-up or informal game of soccer
Entrar con los taco de frente is to confront something head-on
Estar en capilla ardiente is to be in trouble
Estar puras tejas is to be well or estar pura vida as we say here
Gatazo a smart, resourceful or clever person
Inteliburro/a is word play for a dumb person. It is a combination of inteligente (intelligent) and burro (donkey).
Jaibo is a stupid person
La ve peluda or la ve ofe is when something is going badly for someone
Pellejo is an ugly old person (woman) and is a very offensive term
Por aquello means just in case something happens. En caso de que means the same thing.
Pura tuza is when something is of bad quality
Se le bajaron las medallas is when a person is humbled or has to come down to earth
Ser como dos gotas de agua is to be identical like twins
Ser pipa is to be very intelligent, smart or a brain