Coastal - costal

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Beware the possibility of a typo, particularly in writing on geographical matters:

Don't leave out the third letter from coastal.

Both are adjectives, and both are derived from the Latin costa, meaning 'rib' or 'flank'.

  • Coastal is a geographic term. It means 'to do with a coast' - the edge of, particularly, a land-mass.
  • Costal is essentially a biomedical term, more directly derived from costa: it means 'to do with a rib, or ribs'.
      • You may often see the names of tourist and holiday destinations which include the word costa, such as the 'Costa del sol' and 'Costa Brava'. It is also the name of Costa Rica, a democratic republic on the Panama Isthmus, between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south-east. All these usages directly use the Spanish word for 'coast', which, confusingly enough, is costa. More indirectly perhaps, this also lies behind the large commercial chain of coffee bars known to students and others throughout much of the world simply as 'Costa's'. 'Going for a Costa?' is a colloquial invitation to partake of a cup of coffee in one of these establishments.