"branched cluster of lights suspended from a ceiling," 1736, from Middle English chaundeler "candlestick" (late 14c.), from Old French chandelier (n.1), 12c., earlier chandelabre "candlestick, candelabrum" (10c.), from Latin candelabrum, from candela "candle" (see candle).
Originally a candlestick, then a cluster of them; finally a distinction was made (with a re-spelling mid-18c. in French fashion; during 17c. the French spelling referred to a military device), between a candelabrum, which stands, and a chandelier, which hangs.
updated on October 30, 2017