The name "Paxi" in Greek is a plural form referring actually to a complex of islands, the largest of which are Paxos and Antipaxos. Nevertheless in common talk the names Paxi for the former and Antipaxi for the later have prevailed.
There are several theories regarding the origin of the name Paxos.
According to Strabo the name derives from the Phoenician word "Pax", which describes the island's geometrical trapezoid shape. Another version supports that the island took its name from the expatriated people of the Sicilian town "Paxounda" who settled on it. Other theories focus on the Greek etymology, so Paxi could mean the island of plates or it could derive from the ancient verb "pixo" (future tense of "pignio" which means "coagulate"). Lastly, there is a version indicating that "Paxi" comes from the phrase "Paxosas thyras" which means "closed gates" because of the natural closed form of the port of Gaios, the port of Paxos island.
Homer is the first to refer to Paxi islands stating that they were inhabited by people from the Greek mainland. Paxi were possibly inhabited since the prehistoric era although the first settlers on Paxos are believed to have been the Phoenicians who had founded a colony in Kefalonia; thus the name Paxos is believed to derive from the Phoenician word "Pax" which meant trapezoid in shape.
In the 2nd century B.C. the islands came under Roman Rule until 1386 when they passed to the Venetians. The constant menace of pirate raids led in 1423 to the construction of two fortresses, one on the islet of Agios Nikolaos opposite Gaios and another one at Lakka to the north. During the Venetian Era the cultivation of olive trees on Paxos and vineyards on Antipaxos was established. The allied fleet of the Spanish, the Venetians and the Pope in 1537 won a great victory against the Turkish fleet. Barbarossa attempted to avenge and sieged Corfu but eventually retreated and destroyed Paxi islands. In 1571 the Turkish fleet attacked, killed as many as could and burned the islands.
In 1797 Paxi were delivered after 411 years of Venetian domination to the French democrats whose authority remained on the islands until 1799 when the Russians and the Ottomans conquered Corfu. In 1801 the autonomous state of the seven united islands was established under the sovereignty of the Sultan and the Russian protection. The State lasted only for 6 years, till 1807 when the islands were granted to Napoleon with the Treaty of Tilsit. In 1814 English troops conquered Paxos and established the Ionian Union in 1815.
During the Greek Revolt of 1821 the locals supported the revolution by providing men and arms. In 1864, along with the rest of the Ionian islands, Paxos was united with the Greek state and from there on they bound their future together (Balkan Wars, First and Second World War, Civil War).