1. A wild or turbulent disturbance created by a large number of people.
2. Law A violent disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons assembled for a common purpose.
3. An unrestrained outbreak, as of laughter or passions.
4. A profusion: The garden was a riot of colors in August.
a. Unrestrained merrymaking; revelry.
6. Slang An irresistibly funny person or thing: Isn't she a riot?
v. ri·ot·ed, ri·ot·ing, ri·ots
1. To take part in a riot.
2. To live wildly or engage in uncontrolled revelry.
To waste (money or time) in wild or wanton living: "rioted his life out, and made an end" (Tennyson).
[Middle English, from Old French, dispute, from rioter, to quarrel, perhaps from ruire, to roar, from Latin rūgīre.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. 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.