Football great Pelé enters dictionary to mean ‘unique’

Edson Arantes Do Nascimento Pele of Brazil celebrates the victory after winnings the 1970 World Cup in Mexico match between Brazil and Italy at Estadio Azteca on 21 June in Mexico City.

Pelé, the nickname of the late football legend, has officially become synonymous with “exceptional, incomparable, unique”.

The Portuguese-language Michaelis dictionary, one of the most popular in Brazil, added “pelé” as a new adjective to its online edition.

The inclusion came after a campaign by the Pelé Foundation to honour the football star gathered more than 125,000 signatures.

The only player to have won the World Cup three times, he is widely considered to be the best footballer in history.

During his playing career spanning two decades, he scored a record 1,281 goals with Brazilian club Santos, Brazil’s national team, and the New York Cosmos.

Pele died in December aged 82. Since his death from complications from colon cancer, his former club, Santos, sports channel SporTV and the Pelé Foundation had been pressing for the football star’s name to be recognised with its own entry in the dictionary.

On Wednesday, the publishers behind Michaelis dictionaries announced the word would be included in the digital edition of their Portuguese-language dictionary immediately and in the printed version once the next edition was published.

The entry reads: “pe.lé adj. That or someone who is out of the ordinary, who or who by virtue of their quality, value or superiority cannot be equalled to anything or anyone, just like Pelé, nickname of Edson Arantes do Nascimento (1940-2022), who is considered the greatest athlete of all time; exceptional, incomparable, unique.”

The Pelé Foundation, a charitable organisation created to preserve the player’s legacy, said it was a fitting tribute to “the king”.

“The expression already used to refer to someone who is the best at what they do has been [made eternal] on the pages of the dictionary!” it tweeted.

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