Antônio Houaiss

Antônio Houaiss (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈwajs] or [ˈuajs]; October 15, 1915 – March 7, 1999) was a Brazilian lexicographer, writer and translator.

Antônio Houaiss
Antônio Houaiss (1965)
Antônio Houaiss em 1965
BornOctober 15, 1915
DiedMarch 7, 1999 (aged 83)
OccupationLexicographer, wirter, translator
Known forHouaiss Dictionary of the Portuguese Language

Early life

The son of Lebanese immigrants, he was born in Rio de Janeiro.[1][2]


Houaiss began his career in Rio de Janeiro as a professor of the Portuguese language, of which he eventually became a recognized authority.[1] He left teaching in 1945 for the diplomatic service and served the Brazilian government as such until the 1964 military coup, when he was forced to retire with loss of political rights. During that period he was Brazilian vice-consul and representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland (1947 to 1949); third secretary of the Brazilian Embassy in the Dominican Republic (1949 to 1951) and in Athens, Greece (1951 to 1953); member of the permanent Brazilian delegation to the United Nations in New York City (1960 to 1964).[3]

After leaving the diplomatic career he worked briefly as editor of the Brazilian newspaper Correio da Manhã (1964 to 1965). He joined the Brazilian Academy of Philology in 1960 and was elected a fellow of the exclusive Brazilian Academy of Letters in 1971, which he presided in 1996. He was the chief editor of the Brazilian encyclopedia Mirador. In 1990 he received the Moinho Santista Award. For 11 months, in 1992 and 1993, he served as the Minister of Culture under President Itamar Franco .[3]

He was also one of the chief proponents of the international unification for the orthography of Portuguese, a project which he had joined in 1985,[3] and led to the 1990 spelling reform treaty, which he too did not live to see implemented.[4]

Published works

He is the author of several books and many essays, commentaries and articles on linguistics and other subjects. He is best known for his translation of James Joyce's Ulysses,[5] and for supervising with Mauro de Salles Villar the creation of the Dicionário Houaiss da Língua Portuguesa,[6][7] one of the major reference dictionaries for the Portuguese language. The dictionary, which he started compiling in 1985, was completed and published (with more than 220,000 entries) only after his death, in 2001. The Antônio Houaiss Institute was created in 1997 to continue that work.[8]


  1. ^ a b (2012) "Houaiss, Antonio". Itaú Cultural Encyclopedia Online, last updated 24/feb/2012.
  2. ^ Vasco Mariz (1995), "Antônio Houaiss: uma vida." Ed. Civilização Brasileira
  3. ^ a b c "Antônio Houaiss - Biografia" Website of the Academia Brasileira de Letras, accessed on 2012-12-28.
  4. ^ Folha da Manhã (2009) "Maior ideólogo da reforma ortográfica, Houaiss morreu sem ver resultado da obra" (Obituary). Folha Online, 2009-03-07.
  5. ^ Antônio Houaiss (1966) "Ulisses" (Portuguese translation of James Joyce's Ulysses, 1922). Editora Civilização Brasileira, 960 pages. ISBN 8520000088.
  6. ^ Antônio Houaiss and Mauro Villar (2001), "Grande Dicionário Houaiss Houaiss da Língua Portuguesa Archived November 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine". 3008 pages, Editora Objetiva,
  7. ^ "Grande Dicionário Houaiss da Língua Portuguesa" Description and history of the book in the Editora Objetiva website. Accessed on 2012-12-18.
  8. ^ Instituto António Houaiss site. Accessed on 2012-12-27.
Academia Brasileira de Letras

Academia Brasileira de Letras (ABL) (Portuguese pronunciation: [akadeˈmiɐ bɾaziˈlejɾɐ dʒi ˈletɾɐs] (listen) English: Brazilian Academy of Letters) is a Brazilian literary non-profit society established at the end of the 19th century by a group of 40 writers and poets inspired by the Académie Française. The first president, Machado de Assis, declared its foundation on December 15, 1896, with the by-laws being passed on January 28, 1897. On July 20 of the same year, the academy started its operation.

According to its statutes, the Brazilian Academy of Letters is charged with the care of the "national language" of Brazil (the Portuguese language) and with the promotion of Brazilian literary arts. The academy is considered the foremost institution devoted to the Portuguese language in Brazil. Its prestige and technical qualification gives it paramount authority in Brazilian Portuguese, even though it's not a public institution and no law grants it oversight over the language. The academy's main publication in this field is the Orthographic Vocabulary of the Portuguese Language (Vocabulário Ortográfico da Língua Portuguesa) which has five editions. The Vocabulary is prepared by the academy's Commission on Lexicology and Lexicography. If a word is not included in the Vocabulary, it is considered not to exist as a correct word in Brazilian Portuguese.

Since its beginning and to this day, the academy is composed of 40 members, known as the "immortals". These members are chosen from among citizens of Brazil who have published works or books with recognized literary value. The position of "immortal" is awarded for the lifetime. New members are admitted by a vote of the academy members when one of the "chairs" become vacant. The chairs are numbered and each has a Patron: the Patrons are 40 great Brazilian writers that were already dead when the academy was founded; the names of the Patrons were chosen by the Founders as to honour them post mortem by assigning patronage over a chair. Thus, each chair is associated with its current holder, her or his predecessor, the original Founder who occupied it in the first place, and also with a Patron.

The academicians use formal gala gilded uniforms with a sword (the uniform is called "fardão") when participating in official meetings at the academy.

Adelmar Tavares

Adelmar Tavares da Silva (Recife, February 16, 1888 – June 20, 1963 Rio de Janeiro) was a lawyer, magistrate, jurist, professor and poet from Recife. He was a member of Brazilian Societies devoted to criminology and law. As a poet he was respected with several of his poems becoming songs. In 1948 he became President of the Academia Brasileira de Letras.

Ana Maria Machado

Ana Maria Machado (born 24 December 1941) is a Brazilian writer of children's books, one of the most significant alongside Lygia Bojunga Nunes and Ruth Rocha. She received the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 2000 for her "lasting contribution to children's literature".

Carlos de Laet

Carlos Maximiliano Pimenta de Laet (October 3, 1847 – December 7, 1927) was a journalist, professor and poet from Brazil.

Eduardo Portella

Eduardo Portella (Salvador, Bahia, 8 October 1932 – Rio de Janeiro, 2 May 2017) was a Brazilian essayist, author, and Professor Emeritus at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. He authored thirty books and was President of UNESCO's general conference.

Portella died of complications from pneumonia on 2 May 2017 at the age of 84.

Emanuel Araújo

Emanuel Araújo or Emanuel Oliveira de Araújo (December 24, 1942 in Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil – July 15, 2000 in Brasília, Brazil), was a Brazilian educator.

Araújo became fluent in many modern languages and also in some classic languages such as Ancient Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Old Egyptian. This greatly influenced his work as a history professor at the Universidade Federal da Bahia and also at the Universidade de Brasília where he obtained his doctorate degree.

One of Araújo's main works is the book A construção do livro - Princípios da técnica de editoração (Rio de Janeiro, Editora Nova Fronteira, 1986). This publication was prefaced by Antônio Houaiss, a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, the head editor of the Dicionário Houaiss da Língua Portuguesa, one of the major reference dictionaries for the Portuguese language.

Fernando Magalhães

Fernando Magalhães (February 18, 1878 – January 10, 1944) was a Brazilian obstetrician who was twice President of the Academia Brasileira de Letras.

Francisco de Assis Barbosa

Francisco de Assis Barbosa (Guaratinguetá, January 21, 1914 – Rio de Janeiro, December 8, 1991) was a Brazilian biographer, essayist, historian, and journalist. He was a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

Houaiss Dictionary of the Portuguese Language

The Dicionário Houaiss da Língua Portuguesa (Houaiss Dictionary of the Portuguese Language) is a major reference dictionary for the Portuguese language, edited by Brazilian writer Antônio Houaiss.

The dictionary was composed by a team of two hundred lexicographers from several countries. The project started in 1986 and was finished in 2000, one year after Houaiss's death.

The book claims to be the most complete Portuguese dictionary to date, with around 228,500 entries, 376,500 senses, 415,500 synonyms, 26,400 antonyms, and 57,000 historical words. It aims to cover all variants of the language, including African, Brazilian, and European Portuguese.

José Mindlin

José Ephim Mindlin (September 8, 1914 – February 28, 2010) was a Brazilian lawyer, businessperson and bibliophile, born to Russian Jewish parents from Odessa.

Merval Pereira

Merval Pereira is a Brazilian journalist, political columnist and commentator for O Globo, CBN News and Globo News cable television.

Minister of Culture (Brazil)

The Ministry of Culture of Brazil was a ministry of the Brazilian government, created on March 15, 1985 by the president José Sarney and extinct on May 12, 2016 by Michel Temer. Before 1985, the duties of the ministry were of authority of the Ministry of Education, which from 1953 to 1985 was called the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC). Ministry of Culture was responsible for the letters, arts, folklore and other forms of expression of national culture and for the historical, archaeological, artistic and cultural heritage of Brazil. After being extinct, their function was incorporated into the Ministry of Education again.

There were 17 Ministers of Culture. The first was José Aparecido de Oliveira, and the last, Juca Ferreira.

Mário Palmério

Mário de Ascenção Palmério (born 1 March 1916) was a Brazilian politician and writer, who was born in Monte Carmelo, Minas Gerais. He died at Uberaba, Minas Gerais, in 1996.

Nico Rezende

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Nélida Piñon

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Otto Lara Resende

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Paulo Setúbal

Paulo de Oliveira Leite Setúbal (January 1, 1893 – May 4, 1937) was a Brazilian writer, lawyer, journalist, essayist and poet.

He occupied the 31st chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters from 1934 until his death in 1937.

Roberto Marinho

Roberto Pisani Marinho (December 3, 1904 – August 6, 2003) was a Brazilian publisher and businessman who was the owner of media conglomerate Grupo Globo from 1925 to 2003, and during this period expanded the company from newspapers to radio and television. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Marinho inherited the newspaper O Globo and began working there as a reporter. Later he became the chief editor. Marinho founded and was the president of the Brazilian TV channel, Rede Globo, the biggest television network in the country; it now has 123 stations and associates.Marinho is considered one of the most influential and powerful figures of the 20th century.

Sérgio Paulo Rouanet

Sérgio Paulo Rouanet (born 23 February 1934) is a Brazilian diplomat, philosopher, essayist and scholar. He was the national Secretary of Culture between 1991 and 1992, and in his tenure he created the Lei de Incentivo à Cultura (Culture Incentive Law), a tax credit law for companies and citizens that sponsor cultural activities, which became known as Rouanet Law.Rouanet is also a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters since 1992.

Ministers of Culture (1985–2019) Flag of Brazil.svg
Patrons and members of the Brazilian Academy of Letters
1 to 10
11 to 20
21 to 30
31 to 40

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