Definition of the Riot Act from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

 

the Riot Act

 
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a British Act of Parliament, passed in 1715, which allowed the government to use force to control public protest or disorder. During any such disturbance an official could read part of the Act ordering people to leave a place. To read the riot act is an expression which means to warn someone forcefully to stop doing something (humorous) If she comes home late again I'm going to read (her) the riot act compare Public Order Act