Tico Slang—Top 15 sayings!
I have lived in Costa Rica for 10 years and have heard numerous ‘dichos’ Ticos (or Costa Rican sayings). This is an article dedicated to my personal top 15. I actually started with 10, but they grew thanks to my family and friends who added to the list. If you want to really understand what people say here, you have got to learn the Costa Rican slang (or pachuco).
  1. PURA VIDA! If you have ever been to Costa Rica, you have heard this phrase. I could write an entire article about the meaning of Pura Vida. Let’s just say it has many meanings. The most common meanings are “I’m good”, “It’s alright”, “Life is good”, “It’s all good”. So when you hear someone say “Hola Como esta?”, You can answer back “Pura vida!!”
  2. SUAVE UN TOQUE– “Hold on”. I like this one…
  3. QUE MAE/QUE MOP– What’s up dude? Mae and Mop can be used pretty much interchangeably and you will hear this word all the time although mae is more commonly said! I swear that all my male cousins use the word MAE all the time…. To a point where sometimes the use of “MAE” gets exhausting to hear!
  4. ESTA CAMOTE? Which doesn’t mean ‘sweet potato as literally translated but rather, “Are you mad?” I have this asked to me sometimes. What a great saying.
  5. CUIDADO PIERDE-Means “you can’t lose” or “You can’t go wrong”. Think a guy in a bar with a bunch of attractive women around him and his friend says “Cuidado pierde!”
  6. SOLO BUENO-Means “it’s all good!”. Of course it is! You live in Costa Rica!
  7. QUE TUANIS/QUE CHIVA-Another very Tico saying…. Basically both mean “how cool”. You’ll hear this a LOT here.
  8. AL CHILE-One of my favorites. Means “Seriously!?”. Often times this saying is followed by my other favorite word MAE. “Al chile mae!?”
  9. QUE JETA—Literally means NO S*%$. Or in a nicer way “No way”.
  10. QUE RAJADO– This is another great saying which means “HOW INCREDIBLE”
  11. QUE ME DICE?– What’s up? What’s going on…. QUE me dice?!
  12. A CACHETE-I used to think this was only something said on the caribbean coast of Costa Rica, but it’s used everywhere. It means “It’s all good”.
  13. TENGA PAZ- I say this to my children a lot…. It means “Chill out”.
  14. SE REVOLVIO EL GANADO– There are so many funny things about this saying. Literally translated it means “The cattle got mixed up”. Really it refers to having an ex and current girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband in the same place at the same time. Enough said!
  15. SE MONTO EN LA CARRETA– The translation to the popular saying in English “on the wagon”. He’s/she’s on the wagon….