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Salem Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Salem including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Salem Overview

  • Meaning: Salem can mean “peace,” “complete,” “safety,” or “perfect.”
  • Gender: Salem can be masculine or feminine.
  • Origin: Salem is of Hebrew and Arabic origins.
  • Pronunciation: “SEY-lehm.”
  • Popularity: The name is fairly popular for both boys and girls.
  • Nicknames: Al, Ally, Em, Emmy, Lee, Lem, Lemmy, Mel, Melly, Sal, Sally.
  • Variations: Salim, Selim, Selima.
  • Namesakes: Salem Ilese, an American pop singer-songwriter; Salem al-Fakir, a Swedish singer; Salem Mitchell, an American model.

What Does Salem Mean?

The name Salem means “peace” or “peaceful.” In addition, it can also mean “complete,” “safety,” or “perfect.”

What is the Origin of the Name Salem?

The name Salem is of Hebrew and Arabic origin.

The Hebrew name derives from the word “shalom,” meaning “peace” or “peaceful.” The Arabic version derives from the name Salim, meaning “complete,” “perfect,” or “safe.”

The name Salem was historically used as the name of a location. Early recorded usages of the name come from the Bible, in which the name is referenced in the Book of Genesis as the city of the king Melchizedek and in Psalms as the location of God’s tabernacle, referencing the city of Jerusalem.

How Popular is the Name Salem?

Salem is still the name of several cities and towns worldwide, particularly in the United States and the Middle East. One of the most famous locations to bear the name is Salem, Massachusetts in the United States, the site of the Salem Witch Trials of the late seventeenth century (1).

Currently, the name Salem is fairly popular. It was the 506th most popular name given to baby girls and the 718th most popular name given to baby boys (2).

How Do I Pronounce Salem?

The name Salem is typically pronounced “SEY-lehm” or “suh-LEEM.”

Is Salem a Boy or Girl Name?

Salem can be used as both a boy’s and a girl’s name. It is used more commonly as a girl’s name.

Its Arabic variants, Salim and Selim, however, are masculine names. They have the feminine variants of Salima and Selima.

Variations of Salem

If Salem sounds good to you but not quite right, here are some variations on the name that you could try instead.

  • Salamon (Hungarian)
  • Saleem (Arabic)
  • Salman (Arabic)
  • Salomão (Portuguese)
  • Salomo (Dutch)
  • Salomon (French)
  • Salomón (Spanish)
  • Salim (Arabic)
  • Selim (Arabic)
  • Selman (Turkish)
  • Shalom (Hebrew)
  • Shlomo (Hebrew)
  • Souleyman (Western African)
  • Sulaiman (Indonesian)
  • Suleyman (Turkish)
  • Zalman (Yiddish)

Nicknames for Salem

Here are some cool nicknames to call a child named Salem:

  • Al
  • Ally
  • Em
  • Emmy
  • Lee
  • Lem
  • Lemmy
  • Mel
  • Melly
  • Sal
  • Sally

Similar Names to Salem

Names that are similar to Salem in sound and meaning include:

  • Absalom (Hebrew)
  • Aminah (Arabic)
  • Amity (English)
  • Amna (Arabic)
  • Axel (German)
  • Gomer (Hebrew)
  • Mirna (Croatian/Serbian)
  • Selene (Greek)
  • Seong (Korean)
  • Serena (Greek)
  • Serenity (English)
  • Shlomit (Hebrew)
  • Paloma (Spanish)
  • Xolani (Zulu)
  • Wakana (Japanese)

Middle Names for Salem

Here are some male and female middle names that would fit a child named Salem:

Sibling Names for Salem

Here are some names that would fit the brother or sister of a child named Salem.

Famous People Named Salem

The name Salem and its variants appears several times throughout history. Well-known figures who have borne the name include:

  • Ali Salem: Egyptian playwright.
  • Mahmoud Salem: Egyptian author and journalist
  • Pamela Salem: British actress
  • Saleem: Palestinian-American actor, playwright, and dancer.
  • Salem Chalabi: Iraqi-American lawyer.
  • Salem al-Fakir: Swedish singer, songwriter, and producer.
  • Salem Ilese: American pop singer and songwriter.
  • Salem Kirban: American author.
  • Salem Mitchell: American model.
  • Salem Poor: American Revolutionary War hero.
  • Salem Zahran: Lebanese journalist.

Salem in Popular Culture

The name Salem and its variants appear often in popular culture. Some characters and media that use the name are listed below.

  • Saleem Sinai: the protagonist of the 1981 novel Midnight’s Childrenby Salman Rushdie.
  • Salem: the main villain of Rooster Teeth’s animated fantasy web show RWBY.
  • Salem: an American witch house and electronic rock band.
  • Salem Saberhagen: supporting character in the Sabrina the Teenage Witchfranchise.
  • ‘Salem’s Lot: the abbreviation of the town Jerusalem’s Lot in the 1975 horror novel of the same name by Stephen King.
  • Selim: a British champion racehorse of the nineteenth century.
  • Selim Bradley: alter ego of the villain Pride in the manga and 2009 anime Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • Pasha Selim: a character in the opera Die Entführung aus dem Serailby Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Salem FAQs

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the name Salem.

Is Salem an American Name?

The name Salem is commonly found in the United States in both places and people. However, the name and its variants are found all over the world.

Is Salem a Weird Name?

Not at all. It has a rich history and several benevolent meanings. It is an excellent name to give a boy or a girl.

Is Salem a Bad Name / A Witch’s Name?

Not inherently. Remember that the name means “peace,” “complete,” and “safety,” which indicate only good things. One could say it expresses hope for such things in your child’s future.

In the United States, the name became associated with witchcraft and malice after the Salem Witch Trials of the seventeenth century, in which hundreds of innocents were accused of witchcraft and executed in the town of Salem, Massachusetts. Today, the name and the town itself are often found in horror and fantasy media involving witches.

The town and many other American towns of Salem got their names from the Puritan custom of giving places and people names from the Bible. Salem, Massachusetts, in particular, was named to commemorate a peaceful transition of power over the town from one local government to another.

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