1. ¡Pura vida!
As you can see from the picture above, this phrase can be used for pretty much any situation. From the jungles of la Fortuna to the signature of an executive’s e-mail, Pura Vida is a universal term of tranquility and agreement.
This expression comes in first in our Costa Rican Spanish expressions not only because it is one of the most used ones in the country, but because it embodies Ticos’ (section on this word further below) way of life, boiling away life worries and living life to its purest. No wonder Costa Ricans have some of the longest life spans in the world.
“Tuanis” means “sweet!”, “all good”, or “nice!”. Legend has it that “Tuanis” is a bilingual morphing of the Spanish word “Todo” and the English word “nice”, where “todo + nice” (meaning “everything is good”) turned to “tuanis”.
This verb means “to sleep”, which in Spanish is formally said “dormir”
Perico means parrot in Spanish but in Costa Rica, they also use it as a term for cocaine. So, be careful if someone there offers you perico—they’re probably not offering you a new pet!
You learn that cabra means goat in Spanish, but it’s also the oh-so-charming way some men refer to their girlfriends in Costa Rica. Ladies, doesn’t this make you want to go find a Costa Rican boyfriend?
If someone says they have to go to brete instead of spend time with you, it means he or she has to go to work.
If you say this to another person in an argument, it means “calm down.” If you and a friend get into a heated exchange, you can just say “¡Suave, mae!” which means “Take it easy!”
Jupa means head or “cabeza” in Costa Rican vernacular. “Tengo un dolor de jupa!” means “I have a head ache”, for example.