One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Give someone a severe warning or reprimand.‘he read the riot act to his players after hauling them in for extra training’
reprimand, rebuke, scold, admonish, reprove, upbraid, chastise, chide, censure, castigate, lambaste, berate, lecture, criticize, take to task, give a piece of one's mind to, haul over the coalsView synonyms
- ‘In a three-hour meeting the military ruler read the Riot Act to his civilian subordinate and let the latter pretend that he was resigning on his own.’
- ‘The upshot was that the Mayor read the Riot Act and the they postponed their get-together until the following month.’
- ‘Up came the men in yellow and orange to read the Riot Act and cast a threatening cloud.’
- ‘‘Michael has a reputation for reading the Riot Act to civil servants.’’
- ‘Earlier in the year, he had read the Riot Act to unemployed protestors in Victory Square.’
- ‘It was not a matter of reading the Riot Act; it was a matter of a debriefing session which we normally do after a big fire.’
- ‘At 1.00 a.m. the mayor read the Riot Act and by 2.00 a.m. order had been restored before troops arrived at 6.00 a.m. from Sheffield.’
- ‘He was in with his boss the next morning, reading the Riot Act.’
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