Definition of read someone the Riot Act in English:

read someone the Riot Act


  • Give someone a severe warning or reprimand.

    ‘he read the riot act to his players after hauling them in for extra training’
    • ‘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.’
    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 coals
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