The name Salisbury, which is first recorded around the year 900 as Searoburg (dativeSearobyrig), is a partial translation of the Roman Celtic name Sorviodūnum. The Brittonic suffix -dūnon, meaning "fortress" (in reference to the fort that stood at Old Sarum), was replaced by its Old English equivalent -burg. The first part of the name is of obscure origin. The form "Sarum" is a Latinization of Sar, a medieval abbreviation for Middle EnglishSarisberie.
The two names for the city, Salisbury and Sarum, are humorously alluded to in a 1928 limerick from Punch:
There was an old Sultan of Salisbury
Who wanted some wives for his halisbury, So he had them sent down By a fast train from town,
For he thought that his motor would scalisbury.
The ambiguous pronunciation was also used in the following limerick:
There was a young curate of Salisbury,
Whose manners were quite Halisbury-Scalisbury.
He wandered round Hampshire,
Without any pampshire,
Till the Vicar compelled him to Walisbury.