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…

To do Something in a Flash

  • Bejucos are problems in a figurative sense. Bejuco actually means a type of reed or cane.
  • Chispa is intelligence or smarts. Chispa is also a spark.
  • Como pulpería del pueblo is a well stocked corner store or a beautiful woman with many physical attributes.
  • En dos toques is to do something quickly or in a flash
  • Estar legal is anything that is really great. Sort of like the expression pura vida.
  • Hablar a calzón quitado is to talk frankly or honestly.
  • Un llenazo is a successful event that is completely filled to the brink with people.
  • Jamonear is to bully someone.
  • Salidas are witty expressions also called ocurrencias.
  • Se la tira rico is to live well.
  • Tachador is a person who breaks into cars. It comes form the verb tachar.
  • Tico de pura cepa  is used to denote someone who is Costa Rican in every sense of the word.
  • Vivir con soledad or estar solano/a mean to live or be alone.

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

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