Ticos are pretty tranquilo about most things, and they tend to speak at a relaxed speed and enunciate clearly, especially when addressing a foreigner. Costa Ricans are known for saying Mae, which means “Dude,” but has become a form of verbal punctuation used in some circles in almost every sentence. A notable idiosyncrasy here is creating diminutives with -ico instead of -ito (e.g., un poquitico)—hence the words Tico and Tica to describe Costa Rican men and women. Ticos are said to have an odd way of pronouncing the R at the beginning of a word, as in Rica—the R is never rolled or trilled. All in all, rest assured that if your español is not buenísimo, most Costa Ricans will speak slow, proper Spanish to you.
Some Typical Tico Words & Phrases:
Birra: Slang for beer
Boca: Literally means "mouth," but also a term to describe a small appetizer served alongside a drink at many bars
Bomba: Translates literally as "pump," but is used in Costa Rica for "gas station"
Brete: Work, or job
Buena nota: Right on
Casado: Traditional lunch with meat, rice, beans, salad (literally “married,” suggesting this is the kind of lunch a married man brings to work)
Chapa: Derogatory way to call someone stupid or clumsy
Chepe: Slang term for the capital city, San José
Choza: Slang for house or home. Also called chante
Chunche: Knickknack; thing, as in "whatchamacallit"
Cien metros: 100 meters, or one block
Con gusto, Con mucho gusto: You're welcome, with pleasure
De hoy en ocho: In 1 week's time
Diay: An untranslatable but common linguistic punctuation, often used to begin a sentence. Can mean “Gosh,” “Well,” or “Wow.”
Estar de chicha: To be angry
Fria: Literally "cold," but used to mean a cold beer—una fria, por favor
Fut: Short for fútbol, or soccer
Harina: Literally "flour," but used to mean money
La sele: Short for La Selección, the Costa Rican national soccer team
Limpio: Literally means "clean," but is the local term for being broke, or having no money
Macha or machita: A blond woman
Mae: Translates like "man" or "dude"; used by many Costa Ricans, particularly teenagers, as frequent verbal punctuation
Maje: A lot like mae, above, but with a slightly derogatory connotation
Mala nota: Bummer
Mala pata: Bad luck
Mejenga: An informal, or pickup, soccer game
Pachanga or pelón: Both terms are used to signify a big party or gathering.
Ponga la maría, por favor: This is how you ask taxi drivers to turn on the meter.
Pulpería: The Costa Rican version of the "corner store" or small market.
Pura paja: Pure nonsense
Pura vida: Literally, "pure life"; translates as "everything's great."
Qué torta: What a mess; what a screw-up.
Si Dios quiere: God willing; you'll hear Ticos say this all the time.
Soda: A casual diner-style restaurant serving cheap Tico meals
Tico: Costa Rican
Tiquicia: Costa Rica
Tuanis: Most excellent, cool, great
Una teja: 100 colones
Un rojo: 1,000 colones
Un tucán: 5,000 colones
Upe!: Common shout to find out if anyone is home; used frequently since doorbells are so scarce.
Zarpe: Last drink of the night, or "one more for the road"
Aire acondicionado: Air-conditioning
Baño privado: Private bathroom
Caja de seguridad: Safe
Cuarto or Habitación: Room
Habitación simple/sencilla: Single room
Habitación doble: Double room
Habitación triple: Triple room
Mosquitero: Mosquito net
Seguro de puerta: Door lock
Telecable: Cable TV
Cajero: ATM, also called cajero automatico
Correo: Mail, or post office
Cuadra: City block
Dinero or plata: Money
Puerta de salida or puerta de embarque: Boarding gate
Tarjeta de embarque: Boarding pass
Bomberos: Fire brigade; firefighters
Clínica: Clinic or hospital
Déjame en paz: Leave me alone
Doctor or médico: Doctor
Fuego or incendio: Fire
¡Váyase!: Go away!
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.