- 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.
Origin of ceiling
- an upper limit, such as one set by regulation on prices or wages
- (as modifier)ceiling prices
Word Origin for 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.
hit the ceiling
To become extremely angry: “When Corey found out someone had stolen his CD player, he really hit the ceiling.”
hit the ceiling
Also, hit the roof. Explode in anger, as in Jane hit the ceiling when she saw her grades, or Dad hit the roof when he didn't get his usual bonus. The first expression dates from the early 1900s; the second is a version of a 16th-century locution, up in the house roof or house-top, meaning “enraged.”
see glass ceiling; hit the ceiling.