Definition of Riot Act in English:

Riot Act

proper noun

  • A law passed by the British government in 1715 and repealed in 1967, designed to prevent civil disorder.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 (or riot act)

    • Give someone a strong warning that they must improve their behavior.

      • ‘‘Michael has a reputation for reading the Riot Act to civil servants.’’
      • ‘Up came the men in yellow and orange to read the Riot Act and cast a threatening cloud.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was in with his boss the next morning, reading the Riot Act.’
      • ‘The upshot was that the Mayor read the Riot Act and the they postponed their get-together until the following month.’
      • ‘Earlier in the year, he had read the Riot Act to unemployed protestors in Victory Square.’
      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
      tell off, give someone a telling-off, dress down, give someone a dressing-down, bawl out, pitch into, lay into, lace into, blow up at, give someone an earful, give someone a roasting, give someone a rocket, give someone a rollicking
      have a go at, carpet, tear someone off a strip, give someone what for, let someone have it
      chew out, ream out
      bollock, give someone a bollocking
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Riot Act

/ˈrīət akt/