Brazilian dictionary adds Pelé as adjective, synonym of best

Category: Sports


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. incomparable / ɪnˈkɒm pər ə bəl / (adj.) – superior to others

    Some people think that Lebron James is the best basketball player. But I think Michael Jordan is incomparable.

  2. make history / meɪk ˈhɪs tə ri / (idiom) – to achieve something significant that has not been accomplished before and be remembered in history

    Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history as the first people to walk on the moon.

  3. enchant / ɛnˈtʃænt / (v.) – to get and hold someone's attention by being fascinating and attractive

    The natural beauty of the beach enchants a lot of tourists.

  4. dazzle / ˈdæz əl / (v.) – to affect and excite someone by being very pleasing or engaging

    The young actor’s goal is to dazzle the audience with his performance.

  5. prolific / prəˈlɪf ɪk / (adj.) – making or producing a lot of something

    He has written 17 books in seven years. He is a prolific author.


Read the text below.

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 is part of a campaign that gathered more than 125,000 signatures to honor the late soccer great’s impact beyond his sport.

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.”

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 Pelé.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • In Portuguese language, Pelé means “the best.” If you would use Pelé to describe a famous person in your country, who would it be and why? Discuss.
  • If there are new players who would beat Pelé’s soccer record, do you think the Michaelis dictionary should change the adjective “Pelé”? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • If you could add a person’s name to the dictionary in your language, what would it be? What would it mean? Why would you add it to the dictionary? Discuss.
  • Every year, English dictionaries can sometimes get over 1000 new words. Why do you think new words are added? Do you think it’s necessary? Why or why not? Discuss.