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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) 184649. h. haag, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 8:481482. For additional bibliography see canaan and canaanites.

[a. a. di lella]