The Central American country of Costa Rica is one that is very near and dear to me. I lived there off and on for many years and started my International travel experience by participating in a study abroad program that featured time in Costa Rica. Although English is widely spoken, especially in the capital City of San Jose, you must remember that despite heavy tourism and a very literate populace, the official language in this country is Spanish.
Therefore, like most other Spanish speaking nations, the “Ticos” have their own slang. I was proud to learn a lot of it and use it to my advantage. Today I’ll share with you the complete guide to getting around Costa Rica and using their local slang terms like an absolute boss.
The Guide to Costa Rican Slang
The country is a small one – it’s smaller than West Virginia, in fact. However, there is no lack of creativity in this country! Enjoy my list of the most common phrases you’ll hear while spending time there.
“Mae” (Pronounced like “MY.”)
This is used like “dude” among friendly banter. Sometimes it also means “that person.” Like “ese mae” …..”that dude / person.
Being someone who uses the word “dude” a lot in my daily communication, I found myself using “mae” quite a bit.
“Pura Vida” (poor-ah vee-dah)
This literally translates to “pure life.” However, you’ll find out very quickly that this has become the go-to answer for just about anything in Costa Rica. It’s a toast to the simplicity of Costa Rica, and really can mean anything from “good, cool, whatever,” and many more things.
How was breakfast? Pura vida.
I’m late for work. Pura vida.
Hey here’s $10 I owe you (said no Tico ever.)
Honestly, if you just say this in response to everything people say, you’ve got half the battle down.
Ticos & Ticas
This refers to the men and women of Costa Rica. A “Tico” is a man and a “Tica” is a woman. As a whole, they are both “Ticos.”