Get our exclusive Word of the Day images!
mid-14c., celynge, "act of paneling a room," noun formed (with -ing) from Middle English verb ceil "put a cover or ceiling over," later "cover (walls) with wainscoting, panels, etc." (early 15c.); probably from Middle French celer "to conceal," also "cover with paneling" (12c.), from Latin celare (see cell). Probably influenced by Latin caelum "heaven, sky" (see celestial).
Extended to the paneling itself from late 14c. The meaning "top surface of a room" is attested by 1530s. Figurative sense "upper limit" is from 1934. Colloquial figurative phrase hit the ceiling "lose one's temper, get explosively angry" attested by 1908; earlier it meant "to fail" (by 1900, originally U.S. college slang). Glass ceiling in the figurative sense of "invisible barrier that prevents women from advancing" in management, etc., is attested from 1988.
To become extremely angry: “When Corey found out someone had stolen his CD player, he really hit the ceiling.”
To become violently angry; blow up: according to one source, hit the ceiling with rage (1914+)
An upper limit: The Gov put a two-billiondollar ceiling on office expensesRelated Terms
[1930s+; probably fr ceiling, ''the highest an airplane can go,'' which is attested from 1917]
the covering (1 Kings 7:3,7) of the inside roof and walls of a house with planks of wood (2 Chr. 3:5; Jer. 22:14). Ceilings were sometimes adorned with various ornaments in stucco, gold, silver, gems, and ivory. The ceilings of the temple and of Solomon's palace are described 1 Kings 6:9, 15; 7:3; 2 Chr. 3:5,9.