What does Playo Mean?

Published on March 26, 2024 | Updated on July 11, 2024

If you ever been to Costa Rica, you probably heard the word “playo” several times, since it is a word used a lot by some types of teenagers and young adults.

“Playo” is a demeaning word which means homosexual in Costa Rica, the world could also be used to describe a man who is not man enough to do something.

I recommend not using the expression in Costa Rica because you can easily offend people who don’t like to use it or offend people since you don’t know the people well enough and the situations when it is used.

These are probably the three ways some ticos use the word “playo”

Playo to Mean Gay

“Playo”in Costa Rica means “gay man” so people might use to talk about men who are homosexuals.

Generally when ticos use the word “playo” to mean “gay man”, they are usually talking behind people’s back.

They can say:

ESEse mae es gay
ENThat dude is gay

There are exceptions for everything but ticos don’t usually say “playo” to people who have come out as gay

Using “Playo” to Offend People

Let’s be honest when we talk about Costa Rica, there are ticos who are pretty open-minded and don’t discriminate people based on people’s sexual orientation, however there is a part of the population who think that homosexuality is wrong cause their preacher or their parents told them to

That’s probably why some people use the word “playo” or any variant of it in a jokingly manner to bother or offend their male friends

ESMae, eso es pura playada
ENDude, that’s such a gay thing to do

“Playo” as an Alternative to “Mae”

“Playo” is also used as an alternative to “mae” so people overuse it.

Today I was at the swimming pool and there were a group of teenager overusing the word “playo”

They were like:

ESPlayo, pase la bola
ENDude, pass me the ball
ESPlayo, le toca a usted
ENDude, it is your turn


Don’t use the word “playo”, it is not gonna sit well with everyone since lots of people see it as a such an informal thing to say.

Also, the word “playo” is attached to discrimination, reason why many people don’t want to use it.

Manuel Campos

Manuel Campos

I live in Costa Rica, I am an Spanish Native speaker and I am English teacher so I am sure that I will share valuable insights if you really want to learn Spanish