Category Archives: Spanish phrases

Start Speaking Today! Learn essential phrases, cultural insights and travel tips that you can find in our Guide to Costa Rican Spanish…

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

To brag

  • Botar el tapón is to be deceived by someone.
  • Chiflón or Ráfaga is a gust of or short burst of air. Ráfaga is also a bust of bullets like from a machine gun.
  • Dejar en capilla ardiente is to bother someone.
  • El buen pa is short for el Buen Pastor which is the woman’s prison in Costa Rica.
  • El papá de los tomates refers to a person who is a “big shot.”
  • Fiesta a todo mecate is a good party or event.
  • Jalar las orejas means to scold someone.
  • Majo is short for the name María José.
  • Melonazos refers to a million dollars or a million colones.
  • Nombrar a dedo is to hand pick someone to do something.
  • Oijoto or las tres letras is slang for the OIJ which is Costa Rica’s criminal investigative organization.
  • Pararse de uñas is to get upset. Parársele la peluca means the same thing.
  • Pega is a person who is a pain in the neck, indigestion or anything the impedes your progress like a traffic jam.
  • Presi is short for president.
  • Rajar is to brag about something.
  • Sin vela en el entierro is to blame someone who is not guilty.

To Be All Nerves

  • A todo gas is to do something at full speed
  • Andar de mano sudada is to have a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Cerchas – beams in the ceiling of a house
  • Cleta – bicycle. Bicicleta is the correct word for bicycle
  • Empuchado/a is a diligent or hard working person
  • Jamonear is to hit someone
  • Jupón/a is a stubborn person
  • lo or la fueron is to have fired someone from a job
  • La peli is a movie or flick
  • Más peligroso que un rifle chocho is to be very dangerous
  • Merula is slang for a woman’s makeup
  • Parecer un bistec de 5 pesos, solo nervios is to be nervous or all nerves
  • Pichuleo is an odd job; Salvar la tanda is to save the day
  • Se fue de pollo or se fue en todo is to screw up or be deceived
  • Tirarse a la pista means not to hesitate or not think about something twice

A Shameless Person

Bien pellizcado/a is an astute person
Cascarudo/a is a shameless person
Cletero/a is a bicyclist
Echar patas literally means to sprout feet, but is used when an object is stolen.
Estar de manteles largos is to celebrate one’s birthday
Guindo is type of gully or ravine
La cultura del guaro refers to the widespread consumption of liquor in Costa Rica. Guaro is a sugarcane-based liquor
Llenazo is an event that a lot of people attend or that is a complete success
Pelagatos is a useless or insignificant person
Platinazo is the temporary closing of a famous bridge “la Platina” that has been plagued with structural problems over the years.
La Refor is short for la reforma which is the country’s main prison.
Tamarindear is to drink liquor
Topador is a person who sells stolen merchandise or a fence
Voladera de bala is a shootout with guns


To be alert

Agüevazón is a type of letdown or a feeling of disappointment.
Arañitas literally means small spiders, but can refer to a type of varicose veins.
Ateniense is a person who from the mountain town of Atenas
Bajarle el humo a alguien means to put people in their place.
Caite is slang for shoe. Cachos is also used at times.
Chocosca is slang for money. The terms harina and mosca are also used here.
Dar cátedra is to teach someone a lesson figuratively
Domingueño/a is someone from Santo Domingo, Heredia.
Estar a puro té de tilo is to be nervous
Estar ojo al cristo is to stay alert. Pelar el ojo is also used to mean the same thing.
Guarera is a drunken spree
Irse de pollo is to do something stupid or to be made a fool of.
Jalonazo is an electric shock.
Mordiscos or piques are drag races in cars
Ponerse chúcaro is to get very angry. The verbs enojarse or ponerse bravo are synonyms.
¡Que cáscara! means What nerve!
¡Qué color! This expression is, How embarrassing!
Tapis is to be drunk but can also can refer to a drink of liquor.