Why Do Costa Ricans Say Pura Vida?

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If you spend any length of time in Costa Rica, there’s a good chance you’ll come across the term “Pura Vida”. Spoken cheerily by the country’s inhabitants, it’s a perfect representation of the laidback style of life that exists in Costa Rica and it’s something that has been adopted by other cultures, as well.

But what does pura vida mean, where does it come from, and how can you use it in conversation?

What Does The Costa Rican Expression Pura Vida Mean?

Pure life. That’s the literal meaning of pura vida, but as with many other common expressions, its true meaning goes much deeper than that.

In Costa Rica, pura vida is used as everything from a greeting to a dismissive statement, an expression of delight, and as another way of saying “goodbye”.

It’s often said that pura vida is not just an expression but a way of life. In that sense, it’s a lot like “aloha” in Hawaii, though the exact meaning and usage differs.

It’s also similar to phrases like “no worries” in English or even “Hakuna Matata”, a Swahili phrase that was popularized by The Lion King.

How Do You Pronounce Pura Vida?

Pura vida is Spanish, the official language of Costa Rica. It’s pronounced “Poo-Rah-Vee-Dah”.

Where Did the Phrase Come From?

The phrase pura vida is said to have been popularized by a 1956 Mexican Movie of the same name.

The film follows the story of a man who is kicked out of his hometown because he’s bad luck, only for him to later win the lottery.

Despite making numerous mistakes throughout the film and encountering a lot of misfortune, the film’s protagonist keeps an upbeat attitude and repeatedly uses the phrase “pura vida”.

He uses it to describe people and objects, and even to express gratitude when he is invited for a meal.

The film was popular in Costa Rica, after which the phrase began to be adopted throughout the country.

How Do Costa Ricans Use “Pura Vida”?

Pura vida is a lifestyle, an expression of gratitude, and a way of saying there is no stress, no hassle, and no worries.

An example of its use is in place of a simple “hey” or “see you later”. It’s also an expression of happiness and contentment, such as when a friend asks you how you’re doing and you want to let them know that all is well.

Pura vida can also express your relaxed and carefree nature following a negative outcome, such as when you miss a deadline, lose a sports game, or contract an illness.

Do Costa Ricans Say Pura Vida?

Yes, you will hear the phrase pura vida quite a lot in Costa Rica. It’s a very laidback country. It’s also one of the happiest countries on earth and has one of the longest life expectancies.

To experience pura vida, you should consider booking a ticket to Costa Rica. See how the locals use it. See how happy it makes them. Gain an understanding of just why an expression that means something as vague as “pure life” is so ubiquitous.

How Do You Respond To Pura Vida?

How you respond to pura vida depends on the context in which it is used.

If the phrase is used as a greeting, you can respond by saying it back. If it’s said as you leave, it can also be repeated.

If pura vida is used as an answer to a question, such as when you ask someone how they are doing, there is no need to reply.

Generally, it’s used among friends and family but can be heard throughout Costa Rica and in many situations.

Summary: The Meaning of Pura Vida

To summarize, pura vida is a Spanish term that’s used throughout Costa Rica. It means “pure life”, but that’s just the literal translation.

In daily life, pura vida is used to say hello, goodbye, and to wish someone a happy life. It can be used to signify that everything’s cool, something makes sense, and you’re doing well.

When visiting Costa Rica, be sure to listen out for this phrase and consider using it yourself.