A Northwest Semitic people who inhabited Palestine and Western Syria. The name is commonly used to designate the Canaanites after 1200 b.c. For a history of the Phoenicians see canaan and canaanites. The term Phoenician is clearly derived from Greek φο[symbol omitted]νιξ, which means purple (or crimson) as well as Phoenician. Though the etymology of the Greek word is uncertain, two possibilities can be considered: (1) if the primary meaning of φο[symbol omitted]νιξ (and its derivatives) is purple, then the land received the name Phoenicia because of its purple dye industry; but (2) if the primary meaning of φο[symbol omitted]νιξ is Phoenician, then the Greek word is used later in the sense of purple because the discovery and earliest use of a dye of this color was ascribed to the Phoenicians.
Bibliography: Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963) 1846–49. h. haag, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65) 8:481–482. For additional bibliography see canaan and canaanites.
[a. a. di lella]