Riot act

What does it mean?

a strong scolding or warning

How do we use it?
Kim read Steve the riot act when she noticed he wasn't wearing his seat belt, and he quickly buckled up and promised never to ride without it again.

Word quiz
Here are some possible explanations for "riot act," but only one of them is true-we made the rest up. Which of the following do you think truthfully explains the origin of the term "riot act"?

A. A governor named Riot introduced the Riot Act to ensure quiet in libraries.
B. "Riot Act" was the name of a rock band whose music contained many warnings.
C. The original Riot Act was a law passed to curb large public protests.
D. The first Riot Acts encouraged people to protest unfair state policies.

Many people were unhappy when George I became king of England in 1714, and soon his opponents were leading rebellions and protests against him. The British government, anxious to stop the protests, passed a law, called the "Riot Act," that allowed public officials to break up gatherings of 12 or more people just by reading aloud a special message. That message warned those who heard it that they could be arrested and imprisoned for years if they didn't immediately separate and go home. By 1819, "riot act" was also being used more generally for any stern warning or reprimand.