This Is What 'Pele' Now Means, per a Brazilian Dictionary

Entry meaning 'unique' in Portuguese-language reference pays tribute to Brazilian soccer great
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2023 6:00 AM CDT
Pele Just Got His Own Word in the Dictionary
Brazil's Pele is hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates after Brazil won the World Cup final against Italy, 4-1, in Mexico City on June 21, 1970.   (AP Photo, File)

Fans of Pele have been missing him since he died in December at the age of 82, but they've just found one sweetly permanent way to honor him. NPR notes that since his death, a Brazilian charity dedicated to promoting his legacy has been vying to have a term added to the Michaelis dictionary, a Portuguese-language reference, in tribute to the Brazilian soccer great (real name: Edson Arantes do Nascimento). On Wednesday, thanks to 125,000 signatures on a petition toward that end, the Pele Foundation's dream came true, with "Pele" slipped into the dictionary's online edition.

The term's meaning, per the AP: "The one that is extraordinary, or who because of his quality, value, or superiority cannot be matched to anything or anyone, just like Pele." The entry goes on to call the three-time World Cup champ the "greatest athlete of all time," adding the descriptors "exceptional, incomparable, unique." And how exactly would you use it in a sentence? The dictionary offers the following examples: "She is the Pele of tennis," or "He is the Pele of medicine."

Pele, who played with both the Brazilian national team and the Santos club, was their most prolific player, and is still the youngest player to ever score in a World Cup, which he pulled off when he was 17. "The expression that was already used to refer to the best in what you do is immortalized in the pages of the dictionary," the foundation tweeted Wednesday. "Together we made history." ESPN notes that Pele's family will receive a plaque with the entry on it. The word will be added to the dictionary's print edition when it next comes out. (More Pele stories.)

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