“Chiquito” and “chiquita” are, respectively, the male and female diminutive forms of “chico/chica”. If you look up these two words in a Spanish dictionary, you will notice that “chiquito/chiquita” are adjectives used to describe one object/person or compare two or more objects or persons that are smaller/shorter in size (object/person) or younger (person) than the nouns they are compared with.
While Costa Ricans will, most likely, understand the connotation and meaning of these adjectives in spoken or written language, it is the “chiquito/chiquita” nouns we are most used to hearing and they will come to our minds first. In other words, we will mentally and culturally associate the word “chiquito” with a young boy and “chiquita” with a young girl. So, collectively, chiquito/chiquita are used to refer to young children in general, especially in elementary or in their first years in high school.
Examples of usage:
- “Este es el pueblo más chiquito del país” *. This is the smallest town in the country. (Used as a superlative adjective)
- “El nombre de ese chiquito es Luis”. That young boy’s name is Luis. (Used as a noun)
* If we replace the adjective “chiquito” with “pequeño”, this sentence will sound more natural to a Costa Rican. Conversely, both adjectives will sound natural to someone in Mexico, for instance. Yet, if used as a noun, “chiquito” is a slang word in Mexico and Colombia.