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.); from Old French celer "conceal," also "cover with paneling" (12c.), from Latin celare "to hide" (from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save"). Probably influenced by Latin caelum "heaven, sky" (see celestial).
Extended to the paneling itself from late 14c., then to lath-and-plaster work. The meaning "interior overhead surface of a room" is attested by 1530s; by late 19c. the meaning "wainscoting" was only in provincial English. Figurative sense of "upper limit" is from 1934.
Colloquial figurative phrase hit the ceiling "lose one's temper, get explosively angry" is 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.
Old English glæs "glass; a glass vessel," from Proto-Germanic *glasam "glass" (source also of Old Saxon glas, Middle Dutch and Dutch glas, German Glas, Old Norse gler "glass, looking glass," Danish glar), from PIE root *ghel- (2) "to shine," with derivatives denoting bright colors or materials. The PIE root also is the ancestor of widespread words for gray, blue, green, and yellow, such as Old English glær "amber," Latin glaesum "amber" (which might be from Germanic), Old Irish glass "green, blue, gray," Welsh glas "blue."
Restricted sense of "drinking glass" is from early 13c. and now excludes other glass vessels. Meaning "a glass mirror" is from 14c. Meaning "glass filled with running sand to measure time" is from 1550s; meaning "observing instrument" is from 1610s.
Old English glæs, from glass (v.). Middle English also had an adjective glazen, from Old English glæsen. The glass snake (1736, actually a limbless lizard) is so called for the fragility of its tail. The glass slipper in "Cinderella" perhaps is an error by Charles Perrault, translating in 1697, mistaking Old French voir "ermine, fur" for verre "glass." In other versions of the tale it is a fur slipper. The proverb about people in glass houses throwing stones is attested by 1779, but earlier forms go back to 17c.:
Who hath glass-windows of his own must take heed how he throws stones at his house. ... He that hath a body made of glass must not throw stones at another. [John Ray, "Handbook of Proverbs," 1670]
Glass-house is from late 14c. as "glass factory," 1838 as "greenhouse."
late 14c., "to fit with glass;" 1570s, "to cover with glass," from glass (n.). Related: Glassed; glassing.
"glass show-case," 1880, from French vitrine, from vitre "glass, window-glass," from Latin vitrum "glass" (see vitreous).
word-forming element in scientific compounds meaning "of glass; glass-like, transparent," from Greek hyalos "glass, clear alabaster, crystal lens used as a burning glass," apparently a non-Greek word, said to be of Egyptian origin (glass was first made in Egypt).