Category Archives: Vocabulary

Language is more than just a means of communication. It influences our culture and even our thought processes. The idea of give readers a large dose of vocabulary is to improve their comprehension, ability to communicate better and learn idiomatic Spanish.

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

To be on its last legs

A cachete is something good or having everything
Chivearse is to get mad
Chorpa – is slang for jail in Costa Rica. El tabo is also slang for jail. La cárcel is the correct term.
Echarse un taco de ojo is to look at eye candy (women)
Espantárselais to scare the hell out of someone
Estar pa’l tigre is to be on its last legs
Ganarse la jama is to earn one’s living. Ganarse la vida is the correct expression.
Guada is short for the town of Guadalupe
Mamulón is something that is large in size
Míster means mister or señor
Mop is buddy or dude
Pacha – a small bottle of booze
Nacho is something that is fun or funny
Peludo is slang for a dog. The term Zaguate is also used for dog in Costa Rica.
Ponerse como agua para chocolate is to be boiling mad or angry
Pura posta is something that is very good
Se fue en todo is to screw up big time or fall for something. Se fue de pollo is also used here.
Toño is the nickname for Antonio
Zafarse means to flee or slip away from someone

Territorio de Zaguates

To be fed up with

  • Aserriceño/a – a person who lives in the town of Aserrí
  • Botaratas – someone who wastes money or spends carelessly
  • Candidatearse – to be a candidate for an office
  • Chanear – to shine, spruce up or clean
  • Chayotera – a person’s signature
  • Chepear –to snoop or be nosey
  • Cruzarle el caballo – to be an obstacle or to stop someone from doing something
  • Goico – short for the area of Goicoechea
  • Guindo – a ravene or gully
  • Hacerle la cruz a – to avoid something
  • Improvisados – amateur bull fighters
  • Más torcido que el rabo de chancho – to be crooked literally and figuratively
  • Motorizado/a – a person who delivers food or goods by motorcycle
  • ¡Qué jeta! – Shut up!
  • Tamalear – to eat tamales
  • Tamarindear – to drink liquor
  • Tenerle a uno hasta el copete – to bed fed up or sick of something
foto: eyleen vargas

To Make Waves

Alborotar el panal is to make waves or cause an uproar
Bicha is a motorcycle
Burro is a person who is paid to transport drugs
Burros are type of shoe that has a thick sole with treads or hiking.
Cantar a todo galillo is to sign at the top of one’s lungs.
Fumigar literally means to fumigate but also means to kill somebody.
Hacer buena yunta is to make a good couple or make a good team with someone you work with.
Majo is short for the name María José
Mover el esqueleto is to dance. Bailar is the correct way of saying to dance.
Pedir cacao is to ask for forgiveness
Se fue en todo is to screw up
Se le cayó el barniz is when someone’s image gets tarnished.
Soltar el huevo is to spend money or to pay someone money that you owe them. Soltar el perro is a synonym.
Sudar tacacos is to worry.
Tafies is slang for fiesta (party)

Christmas and New Year’s Vocabulary Revisited

Christmas – Navidad
Christmas card – tarjeta navideña
Christmas carol- un villancico
Christmas day – el día de Navidad
Christmas decorations – adornos de navidad
Christmas eve – la nochebuena
Christmas gift – regalo
Christmas lights – esferas
Christmas present – regalo de Navidad
Christmas spirit – espíritu navideño
Christmas wreath – la corona de Navidad
Christmas tree – el árbol de Navidad
Christmas vacation – las vacaciones de Navidad
Happy Holidays – felices fiestas
Holly – acebo
Merry Christmas – ¡Feliz Navidad!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – ¡Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo!
Mistletoe – muérdago
Nativity scene – portal. In other countries nacimiento
New Year’s Day – el día de año nuevo
New Year’s Eve – nochevieja
New Year’s resolution – propósito de año nuevo
Poinsettia – pastora
Santa Claus – San Nicolás, Papá Noel or Colacho in Costa Rica
Three Wise Men – los Reyes Magos
Tinsel – oropel
To see in the New Year – recibir el año nuevo or despedir el año viejo

Costa Rican New year’s ExpressionAño nuevo, vida nueva – a new year, a new life.

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