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