riot

noun
ri·​ot | \ˈrī-ət \

Definition of riot 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 archaic

a : profligate behavior : debauchery

b : unrestrained revelry

c : noise, uproar, or disturbance made by revelers

2a : public violence, tumult, or disorder

b : a violent public disorder specifically : a tumultuous disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons assembled together and acting with a common intent

3 : a random or disorderly profusion the woods were a riot of color

4 : one that is wildly amusing the new comedy is a riot

riot

verb
rioted; rioting; riots

Definition of riot (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to indulge in revelry or wantonness

2 : to create or engage in a riot

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from riot

Verb

rioter noun

Synonyms for riot

Synonyms: Noun

hoot, knee-slapper, laugh, scream

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of riot in a Sentence

Noun

The news about the election caused a riot in the city. A lot of property was damaged in the recent riots. The woods are a riot of color in the autumn. The movie was an absolute riot.

Verb

Students rioted after their team lost the football game.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

His charges included attempted assault, riot, and criminal possession of a weapon. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "How looks can influence courtroom bias," 31 Oct. 2018 Many are striking edifices in Athens’ old commercial center, whole sections of which were killed by unchecked immigration, riots and Greece’s financial crisis that spawned wastelands of empty, shuttered shops. Washington Post, "AP PHOTOS: Life, and value, for derelict Greek properties," 10 July 2018 While those verdicts resulted in largely peaceful protests, riots and looting have taken place in some cities in the wake of controversial police shootings. Annie Sweeney, chicagotribune.com, "Activist plans meetings for community to prepare for verdict in Laquan McDonald's killing by police," 9 July 2018 The state media reports on foreign news usually focus on disasters, accidents, riots and outbreaks of war and disease. New York Times, "North Korea Film Glorifies Kim’s World Debut, With Trump in Starring Role," 15 June 2018 The six-day riot and violent protests were sparked by a police raid in a gay club, Stonewall Inn, in New York City. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, "What does LGBTQIA mean? And more answers to your Pride Month questions," 11 June 2018 Dancing Black children in school uniforms take center stage as riots and police chases slip in and out of focus in the background, mirroring the news cycle’s increasingly short attention span. refinery29.com, "Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” Video Is Full Of Harsh Truths," 6 May 2018 Elsewhere, in cities including Chicago and Washington, D.C., King's assassination triggered riots and violence. Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee's answer to Martin Luther King's assassination: Pray, then take to the streets," 3 Apr. 2018 The findings touched on a number of factors that could lead to riots and other dangerous mob behavior, including after soccer games. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "Brainstorm Health: The Science of Super Bowl Riots, Intarcia Setback, Sanofi Dengue Lawsuit," 5 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Downs was one of 18 inmates charged after prisoners at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Delaware’s maximum-security prison, rioted on Feb. 1 of last year, killing guard Steven Floyd and taking three other staffers hostage. Randall Chase, The Seattle Times, "Man called ‘mastermind’ of prison riot severed from trial," 30 Oct. 2018 Jennie Neufeld Why do prisoners strike or riot because of the 13th Amendment? Jennie Neufeld, Vox, "A mass incarceration expert says the 2018 prison strike could be “one of the largest the country has ever seen”," 22 Aug. 2018 All of this is going on as America seethes and riots over civil rights and the Vietnam War. George Petras, USA TODAY, "Story of Apollo 8's historic 1968 mission soars in Robert Kurson's fine 'Rocket Men'," 13 Apr. 2018 Many others physically assaulted their captors, rioted, and burned their sites of detention to the ground. Scott Stern, Teen Vogue, "How Capitalism Helped to Fuel the Mass Incarceration of Women," 25 June 2018 Hundreds of South African soccer fans disgruntled at the performance of their team rioted at a game on Saturday night. Gerald Imray, chicagotribune.com, "Hundreds of South African soccer fans riot at game," 22 Apr. 2018 Anger among residents there eventually erupted in the mid-1990s when thousands rioted on the largest island of French Polynesia, Tahiti, after a temporary stop on French tests was reversed. Rick Noack, Washington Post, "Shutting down North Korea’s test site is not as easy as it looks. Ask France, Britain and the U.S.," 24 May 2018 Then in 2017, mobs at Berkeley and Middlebury rioted against provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and social scientist Charles Murray. Emily Esfahani Smith, WSJ, "A Movement Rises to Take Back Higher Education," 17 June 2018 Seen through this lens, 50 years after rioting left large portions of the city in ruin, the District is a great success story. Anthony A. Williams, Washington Post, "Washington has come far in 50 years, but is there a way to make it work for everyone?," 27 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'riot.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of riot

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for riot

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French riote rash action, noise, disorder

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about riot

Statistics for riot

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for riot

The first known use of riot was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for riot

riot

noun

English Language Learners Definition of riot

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a situation in which a large group of people behave in a violent and uncontrolled way

: a place that is filled with something

: someone or something that is very funny

riot

verb

English Language Learners Definition of riot (Entry 2 of 2)

of a group of people : to behave in a violent and uncontrolled way

riot

noun
ri·​ot | \ˈrī-ət \

Kids Definition of riot

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : violent and uncontrolled public behavior by a group of people The news sparked a riot in the city.

2 : a colorful display a riot of wildflowers

3 : someone or something that is very funny The movie was a riot.

riot

verb
rioted; rioting

Kids Definition of riot (Entry 2 of 2)

: to take part in violent and uncontrolled public behavior

riot

noun
ri·​ot

Legal Definition of riot 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: a disturbance of the peace created by an assemblage of usually three or more people acting with a common purpose and in a violent and tumultuous manner to the terror of the public also : the crime of rioting

Legal Definition of riot (Entry 2 of 2)

: to create or engage in a riot

Other Words from riot

rioter noun

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on riot

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with riot

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for riot

Spanish Central: Translation of riot

Nglish: Translation of riot for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of riot for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about riot

Comments on riot

What made you want to look up riot? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

amusing and light sparring with words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!