I’m not an Arabic language expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I did study some basic Hebrew in seminary.
First, the latter question. It’s true that some (perhaps all; I’m not sure on this point) Semitic names have meanings. In Old Testament times, a baby was named based on the circumstances under which he was born. For example, shortly after the Ark of the Covenant was stolen from Israel, the wife of Phineas gave birth to a boy. “She named the boy Ichabod, saying ‘The Glory has departed from Israel.’” (I Samuel 4:21) I note from my trusty Bible dictionary that Ichabod neans “no glory.” You can find several other instances of such names all throughout both Testaments.
As for the former question, I’ve read somewhere that Saddam’s name, when pronounced properly, means “clash.” I don’t know if this refers to a battle, or to the sound made by cymbals clashing together. When pronounced as George Bush pronounced it, it means either “shoeshine boy” or some kind of lizard, depending upon whom you ask.
But this interpretation misses the more cosmic meaning. “Saddam” pronounced as George Bush says it, “SAH-dum,” sounds exactly like the ancient city of Sodom, (DISCLAIMER: I am not trying to offend anyone here; just reciting the facts as current Biblical scholarship interprets them) destroyed by God for homosexual practices (Genesis 19). Thus, George Bush was actually calling Saddam something along the lines of “Fudgepacker Hussein.”
For what it’s worth.