Football great Pele enters Portuguese dictionary as an adjective

Soccer star Pele, of the New York Cosmos, listens to the star-spangled banner prior to a playoff game between the Cosmos and the Rochester Lancers in Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey, Aug. 24, 1977. (AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine, File)

Pele," arguably the best footballer in history, is now also an adjective.

On Wednesday, the word "pele" was added to the more than 167,000 words in the Michaelis Portuguese dictionary printed in Brazil.

For the world's 265 million-odd Portuguese speakers, "pele" can now be used to denote something or someone extraordinary -- the sense in which it is already employed informally in Brazil.

"The expression already used to refer to someone who is the best at what they do has been eternalised on the pages of the dictionary!" the Pele Foundation said on Instagram.

Under the new entry, the word is defined as "exceptional, incomparable, unique" -- qualities associated with "The King" of football who died in December at the age of 82.

The online version of the Michaelis also provides useful examples: "He is the pele of basketball... She is the pele of Brazilian drama."

For now, the word has been included only in the Michaelis online version, though it will be added to printed dictionaries in future.

It is the result of a campaign by the Pele Foundation, the sports channel SporTV and the Sao Paulo football club Santos where Pele played for much of his career.

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).