the overhead interior surface of a room.
the top limit imposed by law on the amount of money that can be charged or spent or the quantity of goods that can be produced or sold.

the maximum altitude from which the earth can be seen on a particular day, usually equal to the distance between the earth and the base of the lowest cloud bank.
Also called absolute ceiling. the maximum altitude at which a particular aircraft can operate under specified conditions.

Meteorology. the height above ground level of the lowest layer of clouds that cover more than half of the sky.
a lining applied for structural reasons to a framework, especially in the interior surfaces of a ship or boat.
Also called ceiling piece. Theater. the ceiling or top of an interior set, made of cloth, a flat, or two or more flats hinged together.
the act or work of a person who makes or finishes a ceiling.
vaulting, as in a medieval church.
hit the ceiling, Informal. to become enraged:
When he saw the amount of the bill, he hit the ceiling.
to overlay (the ceiling of a building or room) with wood, plaster, etc.
to provide with a ceiling.
Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

the inner upper surface of a room

an upper limit, such as one set by regulation on prices or wages
(as modifier): ceiling prices

the upper altitude to which an aircraft can climb measured under specified conditions See also service ceiling, absolute ceiling
(meteorol) the highest level in the atmosphere from which the earth’s surface is visible at a particular time, usually the base of a cloud layer
a wooden or metal surface fixed to the interior frames of a vessel for rigidity
verb (transitive)
to line (a ceiling) with plaster, boarding, etc
to provide with a ceiling

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.


An upper limit: The Gov put a two-billiondollar ceiling on office expenses

Related Terms

hit the ceiling

[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.


glass ceiling
hit the ceiling

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  • Cela

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    any of several Chinese porcelains having a translucent, pale green glaze. any porcelain imitating these. a pale gray-green. having the color celadon. Historical Examples noun a type of porcelain having a greyish-green glaze: mainly Chinese a pale greyish-green colour, sometimes somewhat yellow n. “pale grayish-green,” 1768, from French Céladon, name of a character in the […]

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