Spanish ‘costa’ in invented place names

In British English, the Spanish noun costa, which translates as coast, is used humorously as the first element in various invented place names denoting:
– a place having (pretensions to) the qualities, ambience, etc., of a Spanish coastal resort—as in Costa Clyde and Costa del Cornwall;
– a coastal area characterised by the feature or quality suggested by the second element—as in Costa del Crime and Costa Geriatrica.

It is likely that, in many cases, those place names were each coined on various occasions by different persons, independently from each other.

This British-English use of the Spanish noun costa refers to the names of various stretches of the Spanish Mediterranean coast which are popular with British holidaymakers, such as Costa del Sol, Costa Brava and Costa Blanca.

Here are some of those invented place names:

1-: The name Costa Clyde occurs in the following from The Coventry Evening Telegraph (Coventry, Warwickshire, England) of Tuesday 15th October 1963:

‘Come to Costa Clyde’ Drive

Representatives of nine holiday resorts in the Clyde area decided at a meeting organised by the Scottish Tourist Board yesterday that in future the area will be projected as “the Costa Clyde.” Collective advertising campaigns are to be started.
A Clyde coast committee, consisting of representatives of the nine resorts, Glasgow, and transport interests, is being set up to try to attract more visitors, especially young people, to the area.
Mr. Peter Meldrum, Lord Provost of Glasgow, said: “We can’t guarantee sunshine, but we can guarantee a very invigorating climate.”

2-: In the following about a bomb disposal operation in Garrucha, Spain, published in the Daily Mirror (London, England) of Friday 4th February 1966, John Edwards coined the name Costa del Thunderbirds with reference to Thunderbirds (1965-66), a British science-fiction television series about the exploits of International Rescue, a life-saving organisation equipped with technologically-advanced land, sea, air and space rescue craft—coined for this occasion, the name Costa del Thunderbirds occurs only in this text:

Ssh! I’m listening for the geigers along the Costa del Thunderbirds

Garrucha, Southern Spain, Thursday
We are all set here today for the first round in the fearsome effort to hoist an H-bomb out of the water. The super-sub Aluminaut—a sort of mechanical lobster—is arriving to go down, hook the bomb with its big claws and hoist it to the surface. Gentle like.
The bomb—reportedly a 25-megaton job—is lying about 700 ft. down, a mile offshore. It may, according to reports, be cracked, and seeping radioactivity into the sea.
It plummeted into the water through the bomb bays of a B-52 jet which blew up after colliding with its refuelling plane.
Despite all the assurances that everything is firmly under control, there are still plenty of thrills down here on the Costa del Thunderbirds.

3-: The name Costa del Crime occurs in the following from The Observer (London, England) of Sunday 2nd August 1981:

Easy life on Costa del Crime
from Peter Durisch
in Marbella

The Costa del Sol has a decidedly shady side, with international criminals attracted to the sun and the soporific life-style.
‘See that man over there—he’s been counterfeiting German marks,’ said a policeman, motioning towards a man in a bar at Puerto Banus near Marbella.
He indicated another man with two very pretty young girls in nearby Sinatra’s Bar. ‘He’s into drugs. He doesn’t bring them here to Spain. This is just where he lives and has fun.’
Puerto Banus is the place to see and be seen. As we sipped a cocktail, luxurious boats swayed at anchor in the harbour. The scene, awash with money, was the jet-set at play—and a fair sprinkling of criminals.
Lax Spanish immigration controls and readily available residence permits draw what the authorities call ‘international delinquents’ in large numbers.
As one official put it: ‘It is the Costa de Ios Bandidos. But if they don’t trouble us, they can live here.’
A few days ago police arrested a Frenchman and his accomplice at Fuengirola near Torremolinos. The man was responsible for the spectacular escape of two convicts from a Paris prison by helicopter last February.

4-: The name Costa del Cornwall occurs in the title given to a letter published in the Daily Mirror (London, England) of Friday 22nd July 1988:

Try the Costa del Cornwall!

After the latest airport chaos, perhaps holidaymakers will realise that foreign trips aren’t all sunshine and joy.
Instead of camping out in an airport lounge, families ought to try some of the wonderful resorts in Britain.
You get a full week’s holiday without any of the aggravation of travelling to strange regions.—G. Angless, Morecambe, Lancs.

5-: The name Costa Geriatrica specifically denotes a coastal area with a large residential population of old and retired people, especially on the coast of southern England.

Amusingly, in Costa Geriatrica, although the second element was most likely jocularly coined—as a mock-Spanish adjective—by adding to the English adjective geriatric the Spanish termination -a occurring in place names such as Costa Brava and Costa Blanca, it so happens that geriátrica is actually the feminine form of the Spanish adjective meaning geriatric.

The earliest occurrences of Costa Geriatrica that I have found are as follows, in chronological order:

5.1-: From the Daily Mirror (London, England) of Wednesday 25th October 1972:


A dream retirement by the sea becomes a nightmare for many old folk.
They often find themselves in a “Costa Geriatrica,” a ghetto of the elderly.
And the home that they yearned for suddenly becomes their prison.
The harsh realities facing old folk who retire to the coast were pinpointed at a conference in Brighton yesterday.
Mr. David Hobman, director of Age Concern, which organised the conference, said: “For some, that bungalow on the hill, based on an idyllic holiday, can turn out to be not a dream but a fantasy.
“Their palace becomes their prison.”
The answer, he said, was to give old folk detailed information about the coastal areas. Then they could make a careful choice.

5.2-: From the New Milton Advertiser (New Milton, Hampshire, England) of Saturday 19th May 1973—Milford is on the coast of southern England:


Commenting at Lymington Council meeting on the decision to apply for planning permission for land at Milford, stated to be sufficient for 60 dwellings, Coun. C. H. Gould, a Milford ward representative, expressed pleasure at learning they were considering providing more council houses there, and said he wished them “more power to their elbow.”
It was more than 12 years now since they had 16 houses erected there. There was nowhere in the village for young people who wished to marry to live at prices they could afford. Therefore there tended to be an imbalance in the population. If Milford was to become a vital community, more houses were necessary. It would also remove the stigma of being called the “Costa Geriatrica”!
Ald. Brig. R. E. Wood said he would like to point out that the people of Milford had had a change of heart. When he was chairman of the Planning Committee and conducted the first public meeting with regard to the new Town Map, he had to convert the residents to the idea that they needed more council houses. “The attitude of Milford was ‘We don’t want any more people here.’ We pointed out that the population was becoming a collection of elderly people, and if they wanted some young people in the village they would have to have a few council houses which people could afford to live in. So I welcome the change of heart.”

5.3-: From The Guardian (Manchester, Lancashire, England) of Monday 23rd July 1973:

Specialists too few on ‘Costa Geriatrica’
By John Cunningham
Social Services Correspondent

Hospital planners are concerned about the continuing influx of retired people to the Sussex coast—doctors have dubbed it the “Costa Geriatrica”—because of the growing demand they make on health services which are not geared for a population with twice the average number of over-65s.

6-: The name Costa Cheapo, also Costa cheapo, is applied to any resort where someone can spend a holiday on a low budget. An informal variant of cheap, cheapo is used of something that is very inexpensive and typically of inferior quality.

The following quotations show that the name Costa Cheapo, also Costa cheapo, is not applied only to Spanish resorts:

6.1-: From the Daily Mirror (London, England) of Friday 11th July 1986:

Costa cheapo
Cheap price holiday firm Skytours are offering 1,000 stand-by winter holidays to Spain, Portugal or Malta for £25.

6.2-: From News quiz, published in the Western Evening Herald (Plymouth, Devon, England) of Monday 27th October 1986:

[Question:] Why did Costa Cheapo come down to £29?
[Answer:] A price war between travel agents brought holidays in Spain and Greece to under £29.

6.3-: From the Evening Herald (Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland) of Wednesday 22nd March 2006:

Can China become the new Costa Cheapo? They can if Airtours have their way. The cheap and cheerful holiday firm is now offering beach holidays with a little more eastern promise.
They are selling two-week breaks at the Sanya beach resort on Hainan island, in the South China Sea for under €1,200.
While upmarket operators have been offering tours to the People’s Republic for better off tourists, Airtours is keen that those with shallower pockets get to see the delights of the world’s most populous country.

The variant Costa Muy Cheapo denotes a non-specific resort in the following from It only comes once a year so let your hair down, in which “Viv Leyland recalls one Christmas party that she could have done without”, published in the Bedfordshire on Sunday (Bedford, Bedfordshire, England) of Sunday 23rd September 1984—the Spanish adverb muy translates as very:

Trev, mine host, fresh back from the Costa Muy Cheapo, slopped a kiss on the ivory complexion and breathed fumes at me.

The variant Costa Del Cheapo occurs in the following from Please give me a break, Mr Letwin, I’m not a chav or a toff, by Melissa Kite, published in The Daily Telegraph (London, England) of Monday 11th April 2011:

As things stand, it is hard to know whether the policy guidance permits someone like me to have a minibreak. Oliver Letwin 1 said the Government doesn’t want “more people from Sheffield flying away on cheap holidays”, by which I assume he means chavs in general.
On the other hand, David Cameron 2 and his wife Samantha have just taken a bargain flight to the Costa Del Cheapo, by which I assume he means this sort of thing is fine for toffs.

1 The Conservative politician Oliver Letwin (born 1956) was then Minister of State for Government Policy.
2 The Conservative politician David Cameron (born 1966) was then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

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