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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 (cf. Gen. 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.