Traces have been found of a small Elymian settlement, called Hippana or Hyppana, dating from the 8th-6th centuries BC on the nearby Montagna dei Cavalli. This settlement was later rebuilt in the 4th century BC and inhabited by Carthaginians, Greeks, Arabs, and Romans. The name Prizzi derives from the Greek Pyrizo, meaning "incendiary" as in the context of sending smoke signals, referring to its origin as an important point for fighting off enemy invaders in Sicily. The present town, of Norman origin, was a fief of Guglielmo Bonello. In 1150, it passed to the Cistercian Monastery of Sant’Angelo. Between the 13th and 15th centuries, control of the town was disputed by various lords until it finally fell to the Bonanno family, whose fief it was until 1812.