Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An English law, enacted in 1715, providing that if 12 or more people unlawfully assemble and disturb the public peace, they must disperse upon proclamation or be considered guilty of felony.
  • idiom read the riot act To warn or reprimand energetically or forcefully: The teacher read the riot act to the rowdy class.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • proper n. An English law that stated that if 12 or more people assembled unlawfully in a public place they must disperse when read a proclamation

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a former English law requiring mobs to disperse after a magistrate reads the law to them
  • n. a vigorous reprimand

Etymologies

Properly An act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters — 1715 (Wiktionary)

Examples

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