The first known mention of the word in English was in 1936. The English word is borrowed from one or more of Modern Hebrewpittāh, Modern Greek πίτα, and perhaps Balkan languages. These all probably come from the Byzantine Greek πίτα 'bread, cake, pie, pitta' (attested in 1108), but that word's further etymology is "uncertain and disputed". Some sources trace it to the Ancient Greek πίττα or πίσσα 'pitch/resin', while others characterize this as "unlikely" and trace it to Latin picta 'painted', itself supposedly from Greek πηκτή 'congealed'. Though the Modern Hebrew word pittāh is spelled like the Aramaicpittəṭā/pittā (which is related to Levantine Arabicfatteh), they are not connected historically. Other hypotheses trace it to Germanic or Illyrian.
The word has been borrowed by Turkish as pide, and appears in the Balkan languages as Serbo-Croatianpita, Romanianpită, Albanianpite, Bulgarianpitka. In Arabic, the phrase "خبز البيتا" (pita bread) is sometimes used; other names are simply "خبز" 'bread', "الخبز العربي" 'Arab bread' and "خبز لبناني" 'Lebanese bread'.
Most pita are baked at high temperatures (450 °F or 232 °C), causing the flattened rounds of dough to puff up dramatically. When removed from the oven, the layers of baked dough remain separated inside the deflated pita, which allows the bread to be opened to form a pocket. However, pita is sometimes baked without pockets and is called "pocket-less pita".
Nowadays, Pita bread is prepared using advanced automatic lines. These lines have high production capacities ranging from a few hundreds per hour up to thousands per hour.
In Greece, pita is a component of pita-souvlaki. These types of sandwiches involve the wrapping of souvlaki or gyros with tzatziki, tomatoes, onions, french fries, hamburgers, and condiments into a pita bread. Also, several pitas are found all over Greece (as a home meal or as appetizers, snacks or desserts), such as Kolokythopita, Mizithropita (Crete), Melintzanopita, Tsouknidopita, Kremydopita, Kreatopita (meat pie), Galatopita, Marathopita, Tyropita, Spanakopita, Malathropita (Chios), Ladopita.
In Turkish cuisine, the word pide may refer to a flatbread similar to that eaten in Greece and Arab countries, to a pizza-like dish where the filling is placed on the dough before cooking, or to Ramazan pide. The first type of pide is used to wrap various styles of kebab, while the second is topped with cheese, fresh or cured meats, and/or vegetables. Regional variations in the shape, baking technique, and toppings create distinctive styles for each region.
^The connection between picta and πηκτή is not supported by the OEDs.v. 'picture' nor by Carl Darling Buck, A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages, 1949, 9.85 'paint', p. 629
^G. Princi Braccini, Archivio Glottologico Italiano64:42-89 (1979), cited by the OED
^J. Kramer, Balkan-Archiv14-15:220-231 (1990), cited by the OED