Football legend Pelé has entered the Portuguese dictionary as an adjective.
Collins Dictionary defines Pelé as: “ Brazilian footballer: scored 77 goals in 92 games for Brazil (1957–71) and was in the teams that won the World Cup in 1958, 1962, and 1970. ”
Fair, succinct and factual.
However, things are about to get a shakeup as a Brazilian dictionary has added “Pelé” as an official adjective to use when describing an exceptional performance.
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 theatre, he is the Pelé of medicine.”
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The announcement by the Michaelis dictionary is part of a campaign that gathered more than 125,000 signatures to honour the late soccer great’s impact beyond his sport.
It’s not the first time Pelé’s legacy has changed the language of his home country, mind you.
A Portuguese sports term, “gol de placa”, translates to “plaque-worthy goal” and refers to one Pelé that blew past six defenders to score, inspiring a two-minute-long standing ovation in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium. A local sports writer was so moved that he arranged for a commemorative plaque to be affixed to the arena.