An English law, enacted in 1715 and repealed in 1973, providing that if 12 or more people unlawfully assemble and disturb the public peace, they must disperse after being read a specified portion of the law or be considered guilty of felony.
read the riot act
To warn or reprimand energetically or forcefully: The teacher read the riot act to the rowdy class.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.