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How to Talk Like a Costa Rican Local


If you have been studying Spanish throughout your life, then it would be safe to say that you have caught a couple of Spanish phrases down the line. With the little Spanish you know, you may be shocked at what you will realize when you visit Costa Rica. The Spanish there is slightly different from the Spanish you know or have learned from other Spanish-speaking countries.

There are a couple of phrases that you will identify Costa Rican people with; the phrases that make the Spanish Costa Rica special and stand out from the rest.

Below are a couple of words you can look into and practice when visiting.


Tico simply means Costa Rican.


This word means sweet. It can relate to stuff like candies, cakes, cookies, McDonalds’s, etc. You will realize just how much Costa Ricans are addicted to all the sweet flavors. In Costa Rica, everybody loves sugar and that is why it was labeled “the happiest place on earth.”


This word means beer, just like in the Italian language. In Costa Rica, you will find that there are many amounts of well-crafted beers and the locals are very happy to share it with tourists. The cheap Birra is imperial, but you may want to try out the craft beers instead.


Instead of using the word tú as in Spain, the Ticos here use the word  “vos.” Vos simply means that you’re referring to the second person in your sentences.


This is another of Costa Rica’s national dishes, an unofficial dish of course. This dish is mostly served with different types of rice, tortilla, beans, certain types of mean, picadillo, and cheese.

Hora Tica

This is also translated as late. In Costa Rica, you can call someone who has been late for a meeting an “Hora Tica.” Say you booked an appointment, but ended up being approximately 20 minutes late. Here is where you can use the term la Hora Tica. You have to bear with the idea that timing means absolutely nothing in Costa Rica.


Your friends who understand some bit of Spanish may refer to this term to mean something like pico de gallo. But you may soon come to realize that some of the Costa Ricans don’t agree with this and say it has got nothing to do with pico de gallo. All you need to know for now about this term is that it’s some small salad that is served mostly as a side dish.

Música plancha

This term translates to iron music and refers to the Latin American songs where the men were the evil traitors who abused women by deserting and even cheating on them. You can think of it as some type of song that a sad woman may sing.


In the common Spanish language, you would refer to this term as tio and in German as kumpel. In English, it would simply mean dude. In other words, it would mean friend. People may even use it when referring to strangers as a way of expressing surprise. So, you have to guess what the person that is saying it means.


The term rojo means something that is cheap and worth less than two dollars.


This term is known as a fruit, but it’s also the name of some region in Costa Rica. You can also find the sloth animal sanctuaries in this place.


This is a kind of fruit that you can find anywhere in Costa Rica.


The word in Spanish means fixed, but in the Costa Rican language, it means a small sandwich type with beef, cheddar, lizano salsa, and lettuce.


This is one of the Costa Rican iconic typical birds.


In Costa Rica, this term is used to refer to the sloths.

Do you have a question about Costa Rican slang? Click here to contact Ocean Ranch Park today!