Salome: Baby Name of the DayToday’s name has a reputation as a Biblical bad girl, but maybe that’s all a great big misunderstanding.

Thanks to Virginia for suggesting Salome as our Baby Name of the Day.

Salome: Shalom

This name starts out strong. It’s from an Aramaic name, one that comes from the Hebrew word shalom – used as a greeting, but literally meaning peace.

That should put Salome in the company of Pax, Paloma, and Dove. But this name’s story quickly takes a different turn.

Salome: Biblical Bad Girl

English: Theda Bara (Salome) & G. Raymond Nye ...

In the New Testament, King Herod marries Herodias, who had previously been married to Herod’s brother. John the Baptist condemned the marriage as incest, angering Herodias.

The king was inclined to let it slide, but Herodias? Not so much. She sends her daughter to dance for her stepfather. And when her stepfather offers her anything she’d like as compensation?

Herodias’ daughter demands the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

The New Testament leaves the daughter nameless, but the historian Josephus calls her Salome. We’ve been blaming her for the untimely demise of the saint ever since.

There are lots of problems with the story, but we do know that many of the people mentioned were historic, including Salome. Whether she was the dancing daughter or not, Salome married twice and became queen of Chalcis and Asia Minor.

But it’s the story we remember, often retold in the arts. That’s Theda Bara, one of many actresses to play the temptress on the silver screen.

Salome: Wilde

Oscar Wilde’s Salome is definitely a femme fatale.

Richard Strauss turned Wilde’s work into an opera, again featuring the dancer as a temptress. It debuted in Dresden in 1905, but her dance – now the tantalizing Dance of the Seven Veils – was considered so scandalous that it was banned in Vienna until 1918. It debuted in New York in 1907, but the run was cut short by outraged audiences.

Salome: Redeemed?

Salome: Baby Name of the DayDespite all of this noise, the name has been used occasionally. There’s actually another Salome in the New Testament – a witness to the crucifixion.

Agatha Christie also used the name for a not-very-nice character in her 1937 novel Death on the Nile, and it’s the role deluded Norma Desmond thinks she’s going to play in the 1950 classic Sunset Boulevard.

Natalie Wood played a Sarah nicknamed Salome in 1960’s All the Fine Young Cannibals.

In True Blood, Salome Agrippa is a vampire version of the original dancing princess, and she’s quite evil.

Salome: How do you say?

Over the years, the name remained in sparing use. There were eleven Salomes recorded in 1880, 29 in 1920, and seventeen in 1960.

Perhaps some of parents’ hesitation isn’t about the daring dancer, but about the name’s pronunciation.

I’ve heard sal OH may and – most often – sal oh MAY. But arguments abound, and some say that it is just too close to salami to consider.

It reminds me of Sallie Mae – and yet, I think the sound is pleasing, especially in our age of Penelope.

Salome: On the Rise

That’s changed in recent years. We’re willing to overlook – or perhaps reconsider – Salome’s role, just as we’ve reconsidered names like Delilah.

English actress Alex Kingston named her daughter Salome Violetta in 2001. The name has been in the Top 100 in France in recent years, too.

In 2014, 101 girls were named Salome – a new high in the US.

Is Salome redeemed? It’s still a daring choice, but one that could be headed for the mainstream.

Is Salome too scandalous to use for a daughter? Do you think the pronunciation is problematic?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I love Salome. I say sa-LOH-may. When I suggested it to my children, the girls loved it, but the boys kept jokingly saying salami… as I feared. So it’s a no go for me, sadly.

    1. Too bad! It’s got so much potential … but I can see that it would be hard to not hear salami … or to convince her brothers to not call her that, LOL!

  2. Salome is a top 10 name in the republic of Georgia! In the orthodox tradition she is known as a martyr who was captured and killed by the Persians for her Christian believes. Other cool names from Georgia are Tamar (after a badass Georgian queen), Nino (for girls!!), Tinatin and Eliso 🙂

    1. Anna, thank you so much for sharing! And I do think that could make Salome much more wearable for parents who are worried about the temptress association.

  3. We very seriously considered this name but the numerous pronunciations was a huge factor in ultimately marking it off the list. I think I read somewhere that the “more correct” pronunciation was Sal-OH-mee. I had thought it was SAL-oh-may which I really liked and still do. I didn’t want to be accused of saying my own daughter’s name incorrectly. At the time, I didn’t like the nickname Sally or Mae either, but now I like both. Add all that to the bad rep and it was definitely not gonna happen! But I’d be so happy to meet one. Really I would!!

  4. Wow! This post is a real surprise.

    I’ve only heard her pronounced as ‘sa-LOHM’. She’d be darling with the nickname of Sally. I had no idea there were so many negative pop culture references!

    And I agree with Shann, Herodias was the real villian!

  5. Here in Australia (I’m Church of England with Catholic schooling) I have only ever heard the name pronounced Sa-Loh-Mee with pretty equal stress on each syllable. It is almost identical to how we pronounce salami unfortunately. I always liked the name and love the connection to the resurrection story but the pronounciation is a deal breaker for me.

    The connection to the John the Baptist story doesn’t bother me because I never saw Salome as the real villain – her Mum is the one to watch!

  6. We’ve gotten so used to Delilah, the same thing could happen with Salome if more people start using it. I am only familiar with the sal-oh-MAY pronunciation.