Definition of riot in English:



  • 1A violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd.

    ‘riots broke out in the capital’
    [as modifier] ‘riot police’
    • ‘However, economic inequality has remained a pressing problem and has lead to riots and violent outbreaks.’
    • ‘In parallel with the street riots there were attacks of the computer systems of many firms by political hackers from many different countries that used the internet to communicate with one another.’
    • ‘World war is on the horizon, and there are riots in the streets.’
    • ‘The draft riots began with assaults on police by Irish immigrants enraged by Lincoln's conscription order on July 11, 1863.’
    • ‘He lost his sister in the ensuing riots, and his views on the theme of organised violence (to which he devoted an entire chapter) are born of observations made during those trying times.’
    • ‘Faced with escalating riots, the Italian police unleashed water cannon, plastic bullets and 12-inch truncheons.’
    • ‘In the days after the riots, police spies were out in force, creeping through the capital with their ears open for sedition.’
    • ‘Police disbanded the riots and detained an estimated forty students but to date no charges have been filed.’
    • ‘At one point, a police helicopter reported a riot, seeing men unfurling a banner across the prison roof and smoke billowing from the yard.’
    • ‘His mother had begged him not to go out, anything could happen, there could be riots in the street, looting, vandalism, who knew, with these new times!’
    • ‘Our goal is be independent, but we will never be at peace through mindless violence - the blood of those killed in riots and fires are forever on our hands.’
    • ‘Demonstrators say the choice of Qatar is one more sign the organisation is undemocratic, but ministers at the meeting say there is nothing democratic about riots on the streets, as witnessed in Seattle two years ago.’
    • ‘An informant told them that the riot was between the peace bureau and a group of politicians.’
    • ‘The solemn occasion came close to a riot when police were called as violent attempts were made to take bones from his skeleton as souvenirs.’
    • ‘The other thing of course is the riots and sectarian violence.’
    • ‘While tensions between the two groups were often subtle and barely visible, they erupted violently during the 16 December, 1986 riots over Russian control of the Kazakh Communist Party.’
    • ‘Trouble began with provincial uprisings and riots.’
    • ‘We also see the Jamaica that the tourist rarely encounters: slum dwellers watch themselves on news footage of riots, political violence and industrial unrest.’
    • ‘On the first day of the riots, police strongly suggested that their employees evacuate the office.’
    • ‘It became evident that a rift cut through society when later that evening demonstrations escalated into some smaller riots in the streets.’
    uproar, rampage, furore, tumult, commotion, upheaval, disturbance, street fight, melee, row, scuffle, fracas, fray, affray, brawl, free-for-all
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    1. 1.1 An uproar.
      ‘the film's sex scenes caused a riot in Cannes’
      • ‘The top hat caused a riot the first time it was seen in London.’
      • ‘If this all continued then Ms. Lexing had a massively large riot to handle.’
      • ‘Reportedly the film caused a riot in San Francisco's Chinatown in 1927 for its portrayal of opiate-trading, white-slaving Asians.’
      uproar, pandemonium, commotion, mayhem, confusion, unrest, furore, upheaval, hubbub, hurly-burly, turmoil, ruckus, tumult, disarray, turbulence
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    2. 1.2 An outburst of uncontrolled feelings.
      ‘a riot of emotions raged through Frances’
      • ‘Chad had never been so gentle with a kiss, and yet he'd never felt such a riot of emotions at the same time.’
      • ‘His mind was a riot of different emotions as he thought, ‘sorry for… you know.’’
    3. 1.3archaic Uncontrolled revelry; rowdy behavior.
  • 2[in singular] An impressively large or varied display of something.

    ‘the garden was a riot of color’
    • ‘The scene could be a downtown loft or a private club: couples are seen on the dance floor, arms flung about each other, colors an artificially lit, dull riot of yellows, whites, tans and some blue.’
    • ‘The thrilling power of the orchestra's huge string section was unleashed even more impressively in the second movement, a riot of non-stop energy.’
    • ‘Prime Time viewing is a riot of hot shows, reality TV, feature films, sports, and other mass appeal programs.’
    • ‘In a riot of color, one giant painting spanning the entire length and breadth of the sanctum depicted the creation of the world from cosmic fire, its subsequent corruption and pollution and its final cleansing by fire.’
    • ‘The elaboration of the arch-building tradition continued through the inter-war years and reached a climax in 1939 when a riot of extravagant designs was depicted in the local press.’
    • ‘I wasn't sure how many floors there were to the place: the frontage was a riot of shingle roofs and gables, annexes and additions, windows of all shapes and sizes.’
    • ‘For weeks beforehand, school children make thousands upon thousands of crepe paper flowers, which are then attached to the twisted, bleak-looking vines in a riot of primary colours.’
    • ‘Viewers can luxuriate in a riot of color, aerial ballet, and wildly imaginative notions of love and yearning - expressions of what it feels like to be alive.’
    • ‘In comparison to Volta's splendid riot, the quiet sculptures seem meditative and spare, almost passive.’
    • ‘Vegas airport is a throbbing, pulsating riot of noise and colour.’
    • ‘Alexander Girard splashed the gray face of postwar minimalism with a riot of color and infused modernist intellectual design with the giddy warmth of folk art.’
    • ‘To her, suddenly, the entire modern world seemed a riot of noise.’
    • ‘You'll be presented with a flashing, blinking riot of color.’
    • ‘A city market is a riot of enticing smells, textures, and colors, an abundance of beautiful fruits and vegetables.’
    • ‘The whole place was a riot of different voices and accents - I guessed the huge variety was due to so many different floors intermingling, all with their own fashions and traditions.’
    • ‘In the bathrooms, the countertops are a riot of color: they were built with a wide variety of recycled plastics, such as empty soda bottles.’
    • ‘The coffee shop was a riot of smells, people and noise.’
    • ‘The deciduous trees were already a riot of color, turning the hills rusty-gold in patches while the evergreens formed their own enclaves.’
    • ‘Both films are vivid riots of colour, rhythm and violence, full of gun-toting gangsters and visually opulent set pieces.’
    • ‘Presented with a riot of possible furnishings, Simmons chooses fabric and wallpaper patterns and compounds them without regard to scale or convention.’
    mass, sea, lavish display, splash, extravagance, extravaganza, flourish, show, exhibition
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  • 3informal [in singular] A highly amusing or entertaining person or thing.

    ‘everyone thought she was a riot’
    • ‘The men's room number was very funny, the lyrics to the song were just a riot.’
    • ‘Judge Bill Gibron is an absolute laugh riot at family reunions.’
    • ‘I didn't think the trailer was some sort of laugh riot, but I don't think it was unfunny either.’
    • ‘He used to bounce around in that chair all over the place, he was a riot.’
    • ‘The channel packed in games such as shouting match and hoopla that caused a laugh riot among the crowd.’


  • 1 Take part in a violent public disturbance.

    ‘students rioted in Paris’
    ‘a night of rioting’
    • ‘The umpire, supported by the third, TV, umpire, correctly gave him ‘out’, but 90,000 spectators disagreed and proceeded to riot until the game was stopped.’
    • ‘On March 18, prisoners rioted, breaking down a door and assaulting a police officer.’
    • ‘When the details were announced on 12 February 1111, Rome rioted.’
    • ‘When I see that other fellow college students rioted and destroyed the coolest liquor store in town, while in a drunken mob, I wince.’
    • ‘For the first time, middle-class citizens and skilled workers joined activists in protest, rioting against the government.’
    • ‘The Civil War is in its second year and a compulsory draft is in force, which leads to rioting amongst the poor.’
    • ‘In 1979, Kazaks rioted because there were rumors that the government was going to set aside land for local Germans who wanted to create their own independent region.’
    • ‘When the citizens rioted against the English, Richard replied by building a fortress next to the city.’
    • ‘Despite the involvement of 1000 people in Wednesday's rioting, the story didn't make the front page.’
    • ‘Leaning towards the liberal side of things, I am even more horrified by the police managing to get rioting in the street going during the most mundane political convention in history.’
    • ‘In response, they rioted for two nights.’
    • ‘The year after would see rioting in Detroit, Newark, Boston and Milwaukee.’
    • ‘However, many of the younger marchers, such as Gerry Donaghy, are prone to rioting, needing only a spark to set them off.’
    • ‘In times past, their presence has provoked rioting and other forms of violent conflict, but today, in spite of the heightened sensitivities to cultural displays, they attract little attention.’
    • ‘Farmers rioted in Geneva, Paris and Strasbourg’
    • ‘Nine years later, Sophia Jex-Blake and several other women encountered more violent opposition in Edinburgh, where male students rioted to prevent women from attending clinical instruction.’
    • ‘Early attempts at privatization led to rioting in Osh in 1990, so this process was put on hold.’
    • ‘While he has promised a referendum to the people of Adeh, when he made it clear that independence would not be one of their options, 10,000 people rioted.’
    • ‘Not infrequently, girls ran away; some also formed gangs, rioted, and resorted to violence.’
    • ‘The Prime Minister of France is meeting with top officials and a Muslim leader to look for a way to end rioting that has spread from several Paris suburbs across that country.’
    rampage, go on the rampage, run riot, take to the streets, fight in the streets, start a fight, raise an uproar, cause an affray, go wild, run wild, run amok, go berserk, fight, brawl, scuffle
    raise hell
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    1. 1.1 Behave in an unrestrained way.
      ‘another set of emotions rioted through him’
      • ‘He felt her nod beneath his cheek and he fought the rioting emotions inside him.’
      • ‘‘I'll play you for it,’ Danny told him, allowing her anger and rioting emotions to get the better of her.’
      • ‘There was a pause, while Kara struggled to deal with her rioting emotions.’
    2. 1.2archaic Act in a dissipated way.
      ‘an unrepentant prodigal son, rioting off to far countries’


  • run riot

    • 1Behave in a violent and unrestrained way.

      • ‘Ten dead, over a dozen pupils injured, and another school traumatized by a student running riot with guns in the classroom.’
      • ‘The fight to bring the law up-to-date and stop cyber criminals running riot is severely hampered by the lack of understanding of the scope of the problem.’
      • ‘The heavily pregnant ewes were scattered in all directions, as the ferocious dogs ran riot in the field.’
      • ‘Children are running riot in pubs because publicans cannot ask them to leave.’
      • ‘Hence why a good teacher wont spend all their time allowing children to run riot in the classroom but wont spend all their time shouting at them either.’
      • ‘I suppose she cooked you breakfast in bed then disappeared for the rest of the day to let you run riot.’
      • ‘She cited a recent incident when, in broad daylight, a group of youths armed with sticks ran riot through a nearby street smashing the windows of cars and houses.’
      • ‘Mr Debnam argued that ‘armed robbers are running riot across the inner west’ and that police did not have the numbers to deal with it.’
      • ‘The tearaway runs riot, swears and abuses, causes criminal damage and ridicules the elderly.’
      • ‘I just got them to sit down and be quiet, they've been running riot all day.’
      rampage, go on the rampage, take to the streets, fight in the streets, start a fight, raise an uproar, cause an affray, go wild, run wild, run amok, go berserk, fight, brawl, scuffle
      raise hell
      go on the rampage, rampage, riot, run amok, go berserk, get out of control, run free, go undisciplined
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      1. 1.1(of a mental faculty or emotion) function or be expressed without restraint.
        ‘her imagination ran riot’
        • ‘Childhood is a time when imagination runs riot.’
        • ‘There are strong indications throughout the film that the whole story is nothing more than Kevin's imagination run riot.’
        • ‘In fact, less a village and more an example of what happens when a childlike imagination runs riot in the mind of an architect of means.’
        • ‘Thankfully, no-one was hurt, but still, Tom's mind was running riot with panic and worry.’
        • ‘In the heart of the Nevada desert, it is a playground for adults where the imagination runs riot.’
        • ‘Once your child starts playgroup and you go back to work, your emotions may run riot.’
        • ‘When walking over these battlefields, the imagination runs riot envisaging the unremitting slaughter among the Russians and Japanese in battles which presaged the nature of the First World War.’
        • ‘I amuse myself by allowing my imagination to run riot again…’
        • ‘Indian imagination seems to have run riot around this fascinating, multifaceted character of Krishna: his pranks, his romance and his philosophy.’
        • ‘The middle is ultimately the climax, where the comedian comes into his own, letting imagination run riot in the filthiest, most entertaining way possible.’
        • ‘Let us put our mind in neutral, and let our imaginations run riot.’
      2. 1.2Proliferate or spread uncontrollably.
        ‘traditional prejudices were allowed to run riot’
        • ‘Window boxes run riot all summer and at this time of year pavements are stained purple with mulberries from trees planted on the orders of Elizabeth I.’
        • ‘Names are established, reputations ruined, narcissism runs riot and lives are changed forever.’
        • ‘Sex and religion run riot through the lyrical imagery - paired up like a hilariously mismatched sitcom couple once again.’
        • ‘Where space is at a premium, I'd recommend growing roses vertically, climbing or rambling varieties planted to run riot up a wall or up a free-standing trellised arch, leaving the pots and beds for other plants.’
        • ‘The fusion of these two elements has attracted admirers who hanker after this minimalist vision, but Kelly is more at home when she is allowed to run riot with dramatic textures.’
        • ‘Rumours spread of his solitude, speculation running riot in the castle…’
        • ‘It's probably easier in a small business not to let things run riot.’
        grow profusely, spread uncontrolled, increase rapidly, grow rapidly, luxuriate, spread like wildfire, burgeon, prosper
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Middle English (originally in the sense dissolute living): from Old French riote debate from rioter to quarrel of unknown ultimate origin.