A Guide to Costa Rican Slang
Going to Costa Rica? Want to impress the locals by going one step further and using this PG-rated guide to the Top 5 "Tico" slang? Read on!
1. Pura vida
This is the number one phrase you NEED to know when going to Costa Rica. Pura vida literally translates "pure life". It's a saying, a greeting, it's pretty much the country's motto. It encapsulates not only Costa Rica's physical beauty, but the mindset and lifestyle of Costa Ricans themselves - happy, laid back and appreciative of life and its joys.
This one I've already dropped on you. Tico is the nickname for a Costa Rican. A female version would be tica, and the plural would be ticos. Example of usage: "Soy tico."
Costa Rica is not the only country to have a nickname for its people. New Zealanders, for instance, call themselves kiwis, after their national bird.
Mae = man, dude, bro. Although this word has traditionally been used by males, females are beginning to use it more, too. Some Ticos use mae multiple times in a single sentence, almost as a filler word, like "like" in English.
Chiva = cool. Most commonly used as a remark "¡Qué chiva!" or even as an adjective.
This is similar to chiva , and is another way of remarking that something is "cool". However, this is more commonly used by males, especially in the province of Limón. A possible American slang equivalent could be "awesome", whilst a British slang equivalent could be "mint" and a New Zealand slang equivalent could be "sweet as".