read the riot act

read the riot act


  • warning someone by scolding them to improve their behavior
  • giving a strong warning to someone to stop behaving badly


  1. She’d been bearing bad behavior from her employee and thought it was time to read him the riot act.
  2. The teacher read the riot act to his students when they had been asked to move out of the class for unfinished assignments but they did not.
  3. The traffic policeman read the riot act to the biker who had been rash driving & was going to cause an accident.
  4. Despite having talked to the paying guest politely for not leaving lights switched on when he leaves, the landlord decided to read him the riot act that day when he would arrive.

The Riot Act was brought into action by the British parliament in 1715 as a result of the Jacobite rebellion of that year and granted power to the local authorities. According to this act, a group of twelve or more being assembled at a place was regarded unlawful and scolded severely for refusing to disperse after being ordered to do so and having being read a certain part of the Act by a person in authority. It was not repealed until 1967.

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