[ rahy-uht ]
See synonyms for: riotriotingriotsrioter on

  1. a noisy, violent public disorder caused by a group or crowd of persons, as by a crowd protesting against another group, a government policy, etc., in the streets.

  2. Law. a disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons acting together in a disrupting and tumultuous manner in carrying out their private purposes.

  1. violent or wild disorder or confusion.

  2. a brilliant display: a riot of color.

  3. something or someone hilariously funny: You were a riot at the party.

  4. unrestrained revelry.

  5. an unbridled outbreak, as of emotions, passions, etc.

  6. Archaic. loose, wanton living; profligacy.

verb (used without object)
  1. to take part in a riot or disorderly public outbreak.

  2. to live in a loose or wanton manner; indulge in unrestrained revelry: Many of the Roman emperors rioted notoriously.

  1. Hunting. (of a hound or pack) to pursue an animal other than the intended quarry.

  2. to indulge unrestrainedly; run riot.

verb (used with object)
  1. to spend (money, time, etc.) in riotous living (usually followed by away or out).

Idioms about riot

  1. run riot,

    • 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

1175–1225; (noun) Middle English: debauchery, revel, violent disturbance <Old French riot(e) debate, dispute, quarrel, derivative of rihoter, riot(t)er to quarrel; (v.) Middle English rioten<Old French rihoter, riot(t)er

Other words for riot

Other words from riot

  • ri·ot·er, noun
  • an·ti·ri·ot, adjective, noun
  • coun·ter·ri·ot·er, noun
  • non·ri·ot·er, noun
  • non·ri·ot·ing, adjective
  • un·ri·ot·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use riot in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for riot


/ (ˈraɪət) /

    • 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

  1. boisterous activity; unrestrained revelry

  1. an occasion of boisterous merriment

  2. slang a person who occasions boisterous merriment

  3. a dazzling or arresting display: a riot of colour

  4. hunting the indiscriminate following of any scent by hounds

  5. archaic wanton lasciviousness

  6. run riot

    • to behave wildly and without restraint

    • (of plants) to grow rankly or profusely

  1. (intr) to take part in a riot

  2. (intr) to indulge in unrestrained revelry or merriment

  1. (tr foll by away) to spend (time or money) in wanton or loose living: he has rioted away his life

Origin of riot

C13: from Old French riote dispute, from ruihoter to quarrel, probably from ruir to make a commotion, from Latin rugīre to roar

Derived forms of riot

  • rioter, noun
  • rioting, noun

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with riot


see read the riot act; run amok (riot).

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.