: a vigorous reprimand or warning - used in the phrase read the riot act
Did You Know?
Many people were displeased when George I became king of England in 1714, and his opponents were soon leading rebellions and protests against him. The British government, anxious to stop the protests, passed a law called the "Riot Act." It allowed public officials to break up gatherings of 12 or more people by reading aloud a proclamation, warning those who heard it that they must disperse within the hour or be guilty of a felony punishable by death. By 1819, riot act was also being used more generally for any stern warning or reprimand. Although the law long ago fell into disuse and was finally repealed in 1973, the term that it generated lives on today.
Celia's parents read her the riot act after she stayed out for almost an hour past her curfew.
"[Angela Merkel] read Greece and other affected zone members the riot act: their borrowing and spending was out of control, and they'd have to rein it in, just as Germany had done." - Paul Hockenos, The Nation, March 12, 2015
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Fill in the blanks to create a hyphenated synonym of riot act: dr _ s _ i _ _ - _ow _. The answer is …
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