- This is a very interesting surname of unusual 'Muslim' origins and several potential meanings. Recorded in various forms including Saladin and Saladine (French), with Italian variant diminutives such as: Saladino, Salandino, Salardino, and Salatino, it is or rather was, a medieval nickname surname, whose precise meaning is open to conjecture. What is certain is that such was the fear in the 'West' endangered by the legendary 12th century leader of the Muslims 'Salah-ah-Din', that the his name was on every lip. The 'Dictionnaire Etymologique' for France says that the subsequent surname was given to somebody who 'fought bravely for their cause', which seems an unlikely explanation. A recent entry in a World Name Dictionary suggests more pragmatically that the name was a nickname for somebody who was anti-social, a local bully or tyrant! 'Saladin' successfully opposed Richard, Coeur de Lyon, of England, and his ally Phillip 11nd of France, in their various unsuccesful attempts to seize the Holy Land and particulary Jerusalem. It therefore seems unlikely that whatever these leaders thought about Saladin privately, that they would give him publically a 'good press'. Our wide experience of nickname surnames suggests that the name may have meant different things to different people. We believe that in France and Northern Italy it did probably described a local 'hard man', but that in Southern Italy, it may well have indicated a fierce soldier. What interpretation the first nameholders in the medieval period put on the name would be very interesting to know, but it is almost certain that they regarded it as complimentary or otherwise it could hardly have survived. Curiously England used disinformation against 'Boney', the Emperor Napoleon, that he was a monster who, it was implied 'killed children'. However as this was in the 19th century, it was far too late to provide any surnames.
Surnames reference. 2013.
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