Is ceiling and roof similar?

What is the difference?

Does a cave have ceiling or roof? because there sometimes are holes.

1 Answer 1


Not necessarily. If you consider the terms "ceiling" and "roof" being limited in application to buildings or like structures (such as caves) only, then:

Ceiling is the uppermost covering wall in any room inside the building.

Roof is the other side of the ceiling, outside the house.

Thus, a cave has a ceiling, but not necessarily a roof, as, if the cave is in a mountain, you probably wouldn't call the peak of the mountain the roof of the cave.


As @J.R. pointed out, "ceiling" and "roof" are used interchangeably and as synonyms by cave explorers, also known as spelunkers. Even then, IMHO, the (arguably) correct term to use for the purpose would be "ceiling", for reasons explained above.

  • 1
    Insofar as houses are concerned, I think you've explained it well. I like your logic about caves, too, but I'm afraid that spelunkers may not agree with us. In fact, in the context of caves, both terms seem to be used synonymously; moreover, for some reason, roof seems to be more prevalent. Most peculiar.
    – J.R.
    Feb 28, 2016 at 10:22
  • @J.R. I'm not a spelunker, so I wouldn't know, but what I said is considered okay in geological terms. I limited my definition to buildings as the OP asked for that, but in case I'm requested to elaborate or extend m answer, I most definitely shall. Feb 28, 2016 at 10:25
  • Well, the O.P. did ask about caves, so it might be a good idea to clarify a bit more (because, apparently, caves do have roofs).
    – J.R.
    Feb 28, 2016 at 10:39
  • @J.R. please do check the edits. Also, checking the statistics you provided, the prevalence of usage of "ceiling" has gone up as the science of geology and cave exploration has developed (I used the time envelope 1800 to 2008), so that might be saying something. Feb 28, 2016 at 10:43
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    I think this sentence is both helpful and interesting: Stalactites hang downward from the ceiling and are formed as drop after drop of water slowly trickles through cracks in the cave roof. Thus, it seems like the ceiling of the cave is what you would see when you are in the cave, but the roof of the cave is the rock and earth above the ceiling. (Mind you, I'm no expert on this, but the question has gotten me curious).
    – J.R.
    Feb 28, 2016 at 10:55

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