What in the world is a Tico? Sounds exotic. Maybe it's something like a Piña Colada or a Capucino. Or maybe it's one of those little biting pests that you find in tropical places. Wrong! A Tico is a very special group of people that inhabit one of the most beautiful, tropical and hidden paradises in the world—Costa Rica. “Tico” is simply the name commonly used to refer to the native inhabitants of Costa Rica.
But why “Tico“? In the Spanish world, the diminutive, formed
by dropping the final “o” or “a” and adding an “ito” or “ita” depending
on the gender, is commonly used out of friendliness and familiarity.
It’s much more cariñoso (affectionate) to call your amigo (friend)
an amigito (little friend).
About a century ago many Costa Ricans made the mistake of forming the
diminutive by adding an “ico” to the end of words. So poquito (the
Spanish diminutive of the word poco, little, few) would be poquiTICO when
spoken by a Costa Rican. Because of their friendly and warm-hearted manner,
the people of Costa Rica commonly used the diminutive in their everyday
speech patterns and thus earned the nickname “Ticos” from
Although the Costa Rican educational system has now taught most of the
Ticos the correct grammatical usage of the diminutive forms in Spanish,
the term “Tico” remains to commemorate this charming affection
of the past.
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