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Riot Act

an English statute of 1715 providing that if 12 or more persons assemble unlawfully and riotously, to the disturbance of the public peace, and refuse to disperse upon proclamation they shall be considered guilty of felony.
read someone the riot act,
  1. to reprimand; censure:
    The principal read them the riot act for their behavior at the assembly.
  2. to give (someone) a sharp warning. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Riot Act
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Johnston, a magistrate, was there to read the Riot Act if necessary.

    Policing the Plains R.G. MacBeth
  • Run line had on her the effect of the reading of the Riot Act.

    Auld Licht Idylls

    J. M. Barrie
  • He asked, if the Riot Act was not an encroachment on the rights of the people?

  • A magistrate was sent for, who, amid a shower of stones, read the Riot Act.

    The Smugglers Charles G. Harper
  • "I'll have you read the Riot Act instead of doing it myself," added the Mayor.

  • Even there the Riot Act had to be read and the Guards sent for.

    Old and New London Walter Thornbury
  • Then Mac called the men together and read the Riot Act to them.

    The Yukon Trail

    William MacLeod Raine
  • Then I flew back to the provost, and I cried to him, “Read the Riot Act!”

    The Provost John Galt
British Dictionary definitions for Riot Act

Riot Act

(criminal law) (formerly in England) a statute of 1715 by which persons committing a riot had to disperse within an hour of the reading of the act by a magistrate
read the riot act to someone, to warn or reprimand someone severely
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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