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.