A Brazilian dictionary has added “Pelé” as an adjective to use when describing someone who is “exceptional, incomparable, unique.”
The announcement by the Michaelis dictionary on Wednesday is part of a campaign that gathered more than 125,000 signatures to honor the late soccer great’s impact beyond his sport.
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The three-time World Cup champion died in December at age 82 after a fight against colon cancer.
The dictionary entry reads: “The one that is extraordinary, or who because of his quality, value or superiority cannot be matched to anything or anyone, just like Pelé; nickname of Edson Arantes do Nascimento (1940-2022), considered the best athlete of all time; exceptional, incomparable, unique. Examples: He is the Pelé of basketball, she is the Pelé of tennis, she is the Pelé of Brazilian theater, he is the Pelé of medicine.”
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The Pelé Foundation, Santos FC — where he played most of his career — and many Brazilians celebrated the decision by the publishers of one of the country’s most popular dictionaries.
“The expression that was already used to refer to the best at something is already eternal in the pages of the dictionary,” Pelé’s social media channels said after the announcement. “We made history together and put the name of the King of Soccer into the Portuguese language. Pelé means ‘THE BEST’.”
Pelé spent nearly two decades enchanting fans and dazzling opponents as the game’s most prolific scorer with Brazilian club Santos and the Brazil national team. In the conversation about soccer’s greatest, only the late Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are mentioned alongside.