¿Where the Tico Expression “UPEEE” Came From?

September 20, 2019

In addition to the expression “Pura Vida!“, in Costa Rica there is the expression “Upeee” that is used among the Costa Ricans to let the owner of the house know that someone is outside waiting to be treated.

There are two hypotheses from where this expression originated.

The first one says that according to the book “the Costa Rican” by Constantino Lascariz, its origin has to do with an old tradition, which consisted of greeting like this:

“Hail Mary pure, here I bring you from our lady of Guadalupe”

The above was a tradition initiated in Guanacaste, as the virgin of Guadalupe is the patron saint of the Nicoyanos.

Long ago, when they were the feasts of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Nicoyanians went knocking the door from house to house, with the intention of collecting funds for the virgin.

They said: “A little help for the virgin of Guadalupe!”, to which the neighbors responded with a gentle gesture for the virgin.

Over time, according to this story, the Nicoyans were reducing this phrase until it became the echo “Uppeeee!”.

The second hypothesis says “Upee” is a word from the Huetar language. Its root is shared with other languages ​​of Chibcha origin, such as bribri, cabécar and maleku, in which the meaning of upe is house or ranch.

Thus, upe means house and in exclamation means “Ah of the houses!” That the Spanish at the time used to be noticed by owners.

It concludes that upe is “people from the house!” (u = house / pe = people).

Whatever the correct hypothesis is, upe will continue to be an expression that will accompany Costa Ricans in history and their culture.