Brazil Legend Pele Added to the Dictionary in Portugal to Describe Someone ‘Out of the Ordinary’


The Brazilian football star ‘Pele’ has been added to the Portuguese dictionary as an adjective to denote someone ‘out of the ordinary.’


The Michaelis dictionary’s announcement was part of a campaign that amassed more than 125,000 signatures to recognize his effect outside of football.



For the world’s 265 million Portuguese speakers, ‘pele’ can now be used to denote something or someone extraordinary for which it is already employed informally in Brazil.


Under the new entry, the word is defined as ‘exceptional, incomparable, unique’, qualities associated with ‘The King’ of football.


The three-time World Cup winner died in December aged 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 Pele; nickname of Edson Arantes do Nascimento (1940-2022), considered the best athlete of all time; exceptional, incomparable, unique.


‘Examples: He is the Pele of basketball, she is the Pele of tennis, she is the Pele of Brazilian theater, he is the Pele of medicine.’


The Pele 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,’ Pele’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. Pele means “THE BEST”.’


‘The Pele campaign in the dictionary is one of the most original we have ever participated,’ said Joe Fraga, executive director of the Pele Foundation.
‘His name in the dictionary is a very important piece of his legacy that will keep Pele alive forever.’


Pele scored a world record 1,281 goals during his more than two decades playing with Santos (1956-74), the Brazilian national team and the New York Cosmos (1975-77).


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