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PURA VIDA: The Most Important Costa Rica Spanish Expression

PURA VIDA: The Most Important Costa Rica Spanish Expression

Although “pura” means “pure” and “vida” means “life,” the phrase “pura vida” can be translated in many ways such as “full of life,” “this is real living,” “this is the life,” “awesome” or even a greeting or goodbye. It’s a simple phrase that is used constantly in the country of Costa Rica.

If you know anything about Costa Ricans, or Ticos, you have probably heard this phrase before. Pura vida is a catch-all phrase that basically every Costa Rican uses several times a day. Ticos strive to live a laid-back life, one full of happiness low on stress. The phrase pura vida fits the attitude of this Central American country perfectly.

The origin of the Costa Rica Spanish expression Pura vida

No one really knows how the term was coined, though rumors suggest it came into use around 1956 after a Mexican movie entitled, “Pura Vida!” was released. Nowadays, the phrase is basically the unofficial motto of Costa Rica. Pura vida is so uniquely Costa Rican that if you hear someone say it, you can be assured that they are either a Tico or they spent a significant amount of time living in Costa Rica.

Many ways to use the phrase Pura vida

It’s not uncommon to use pura vida as a response to a hello,  or as a pleasant farewell. You can also use it as a sign of appreciation, a compliment, or even a thank you. The phrase is so widely used in so many different contexts, that even if you showed up in Costa Rica knowing nothing outside of the phrase pura vida, you would surely fare quite well with the friendly Ticos.

What is your favorite Spanish expression?

Check out these other Costa Rica Spanish Slang Expressions articles.

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