One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An Act passed by the British government in 1715 and repealed in 1967, designed to prevent civil disorder. The Act made it a felony for an assembly of more than twelve people to refuse to disperse after being ordered to do so and having been read a specified section of the Act by lawful authority.
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’
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
- ‘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.’
- ‘Earlier in the year, he had read the Riot Act to unemployed protestors in Victory Square.’
- ‘Up came the men in yellow and orange to read the Riot Act and cast a threatening cloud.’
- ‘He was in with his boss the next morning, reading the Riot Act.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘The upshot was that the Mayor read the Riot Act and the they postponed their get-together until the following month.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘‘Michael has a reputation for reading the Riot Act to civil servants.’’
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