The name Salisbury, which is first recorded around the year 900 as Searoburg (dative Searobyrig), 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 English Sarisberie.
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.
Salisbury appeared in the Welsh Chronicle of the Britons as Caer-Caradog, Caer-Gradawc and Caer-Wallawg. Cair-Caratauc, one of the 28 British cities listed in the History of the Britons, has also been identified with Salisbury.