Definition of riot in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈrʌɪət/


1A violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd: riots broke out in the capital [mass noun]: he was convicted on charges of riot and assault [as modifier]: riot police
More example sentences
  • The other thing of course is the riots and sectarian violence.
  • However, economic inequality has remained a pressing problem and has lead to riots and violent outbreaks.
  • An informant told them that the riot was between the peace bureau and a group of politicians.
uproar, rampage, furore, tumult, commotion, upheaval, disturbance, street fight, melee, row, scuffle, fracas, fray, affray, brawl, free-for-all;
violent disorder, violence, mob violence, street fighting, vandalism, frenzy, mayhem, turmoil, lawlessness, anarchy
North American informal wilding
1.1An uproar: the film’s sex scenes caused a riot in Cannes
More example sentences
  • If this all continued then Ms. Lexing had a massively large riot to handle.
  • The top hat caused a riot the first time it was seen in London.
  • Reportedly the film caused a riot in San Francisco's Chinatown in 1927 for its portrayal of opiate-trading, white-slaving Asians.
1.2An outburst of uncontrolled feelings: a riot of emotions raged through Fabia
More example sentences
  • His mind was a riot of different emotions as he thought, ‘sorry for… you know.’
  • Chad had never been so gentle with a kiss, and yet he'd never felt such a riot of emotions at the same time.
1.3 [mass noun] archaic Uncontrolled revelry; rowdy behaviour: a young lord leaving the city after a night of riot
2 [in singular] An impressively large or varied display of something: the garden was a riot of colour
More example sentences
  • The thrilling power of the orchestra's huge string section was unleashed even more impressively in the second movement, a riot of non-stop energy.
  • The elaboration of the arch-building tradition continued through the inter-war years and reached a climax in 1939 when a riot of extravagant designs was depicted in the local press.
  • Alexander Girard splashed the gray face of postwar minimalism with a riot of color and infused modernist intellectual design with the giddy warmth of folk art.
mass, sea, lavish display, splash, extravagance, extravaganza, flourish, show, exhibition
3 [in singular] informal A highly amusing or entertaining person or thing: everyone thought she was a riot
More example sentences
  • Judge Bill Gibron is an absolute laugh riot at family reunions.
  • I didn't think the trailer was some sort of laugh riot, but I don't think it was unfunny either.
  • He used to bounce around in that chair all over the place, he was a riot.


[no object]
1Take part in a violent public disturbance: students rioted in Paris (as noun rioting) another night of rioting
More example sentences
  • Nine years later, Sophia Jex-Blake and several other women encountered more violent opposition in Edinburgh, where male students rioted to prevent women from attending clinical instruction.
  • When I see that other fellow college students rioted and destroyed the coolest liquor store in town, while in a drunken mob, I wince.
  • In response, they rioted for two nights.
1.1Behave in an unrestrained way: another set of emotions rioted through him
More example sentences
  • ‘I'll play you for it,’ Danny told him, allowing her anger and rioting emotions to get the better of her.
  • He felt her nod beneath his cheek and he fought the rioting emotions inside him.
  • There was a pause, while Kara struggled to deal with her rioting emotions.
1.2 archaic Act in a dissipated way: an unrepentant prodigal son, rioting off to far countries


run riot

Behave in a violent and unrestrained way: a country where freelance gunmen run riot, looting and hijacking food
More example sentences
  • The fight to bring the law up-to-date and stop cyber criminals running riot is severely hampered by the lack of understanding of the scope of the problem.
  • Hence why a good teacher wont spend all their time allowing children to run riot in the classroom but wont spend all their time shouting at them either.
  • The tearaway runs riot, swears and abuses, causes criminal damage and ridicules the elderly.
go on the rampage, rampage, riot, run amok, go berserk, get out of control, run free, go undisciplined
informal raise hell
1.1(Of a mental faculty or emotion) function or be expressed without restraint: her imagination ran riot
More example sentences
  • Once your child starts playgroup and you go back to work, your emotions may run riot.
  • Childhood is a time when imagination runs riot.
  • Let us put our mind in neutral, and let our imaginations run riot.
1.2Proliferate or spread uncontrollably: traditional prejudices were allowed to run riot
More example sentences
  • The fusion of these two elements has attracted admirers who hanker after this minimalist vision, but Kelly is more at home when she is allowed to run riot with dramatic textures.
  • Rumours spread of his solitude, speculation running riot in the castle…
  • Names are established, reputations ruined, narcissism runs riot and lives are changed forever.
grow profusely, spread uncontrolled, increase rapidly, grow rapidly, luxuriate, spread like wildfire, burgeon, prosper;
multiply, mushroom, snowball, escalate, rocket



Pronunciation: /ˈrʌɪətə/
Example sentences
  • The 26-year-old was seen on video as a front-line rioter, hurling a petrol bomb and stones.
  • A 15-year-old front line rioter was locked up for a year yesterday after being filmed bombarding police with missiles.
  • The average prison sentence for an adult rioter was just over four years, while juveniles were imprisoned for an average of almost 20 months.


Middle English (originally in the sense 'dissolute living'): from Old French riote 'debate', from rioter 'to quarrel', of unknown ultimate origin.

  • read from Old English:

    Alfred the Great, king of Wessex between 871 and 899, did much to promote education in his kingdom, and the word read is first found in his writings. The word goes back to a Germanic root meaning ‘advise, guess, interpret’, and Old English riddle comes from the same root. The three Rs (early 19th century) have been ‘reading, (w)riting, and (a)rithmetic’, regarded as the fundamentals of elementary education. The expression is said to have originated as a toast proposed by the banker and politician Sir William Curtis (1752–1829). Read my lips was most famously used by the first President Bush in 1998. In making a campaign pledge not to raise taxes, he said ‘Read my lips: no new taxes.’ If you want to give someone a severe warning or reprimand, you may read the riot act to them. The Riot Act was passed by the British government in 1715 to prevent civil disorder in the wake of the Jacobite rebellion of that year. The Act made it an offence for a group of twelve or more people to refuse to disperse within an hour of being ordered to do so, after a magistrate had read a particular section of the Act to them. This created something of a problem, as reading legal language aloud is not the easiest thing to do in the middle of a genuine riot—and defendants might claim later that they had not heard the key words. The Act failed to prevent a number of major disturbances over the years, but was not repealed until 1967. Riot (Middle English) originally meant dissolute living and comes from an Old French word meaning ‘to quarrel’.

Words that rhyme with riot

Byatt, diet, quiet, ryot, Wyatt

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: riot

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