verb (used without object)
verb (used with object)
- to act without control or restraint: The neighbors let their children run riot.
- to grow luxuriantly or abundantly: Crab grass is running riot in our lawn.
Origin of riot
Synonyms for riot
- a disturbance made by an unruly mob or (in law) three or more persons; tumult or uproar
- (as modifier)a riot gun; riot police; a riot shield
- to behave wildly and without restraint
- (of plants) to grow rankly or profusely
Word Origin for riot
c.1200, "debauchery, extravagance, wanton living," from Old French riote (12c.) "dispute, quarrel, (tedious) talk, chattering, argument, domestic strife," also a euphemism for "sexual intercourse," of uncertain origin. Cf. Medieval Latin riota "quarrel, dispute, uproar, riot." Perhaps from Latin rugire "to roar." Meaning "public disturbance" is first recorded late 14c. Meaning "something spectacularly successful" first recorded 1909 in theater slang.
Run riot is first recorded 1520s, a metaphoric extension from Middle English meaning in reference to hounds following the wrong scent. The Riot Act, part of which must be read to a mob before active measures can be taken, was passed 1714 (1 Geo. I, st.2, c.5). Riot girl and alternative form riot grrl first recorded 1992.
see read the riot act; run amok (riot).