c. 1600, "of or pertaining to an Indo-European people whose empire (c. 1900-700 B.C.E.) covered much of modern Turkey and Syria," from Hebrew Hitti "Hittite" (plural Hittim), from Hittite Hatti. The biblical use (Genesis xv.20, etc.) refers to Canaanite or Syrian tribes that probably were genuine scions of the Hittites. They were called khita or kheta in Egyptian; in Late Latin Hethaeus.