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1. To behave or run around in a wild, unruly, out-of-control manner; to be crazy or chaotic. We tried to have some organized games for the kids, but as soon as they all got here they started running amok. The villagers were cleaning up debris for days after the bulls ran amok through the streets.
2. To become bad or go awry; to get out of control; to go haywire. This whole operation has run amok. I don't know how we can be expected to finish under the deadline in these conditions.
3. dated To rush around in a violent, murderous frenzy. This is the phrase's original meaning, taken from Malay. "Amok" also has an older alternative spelling, "amuck." Members of the warrior clan were known to run amok on the battlefield in a bloodthirsty frenzy.
To act in a chaotic manner. As soon as the alarm went off, everyone in the room ran riot.
read (one) the riot act
To scold, reprimand, or reprove one severely for an error or mistake. I was read the riot act by my boss last week for messing up the accounting software. I know Mary messed up, but there was no need to read her the riot act for it.
riot of color(s)
That which contains an array of many different, contrasting colors. I love watching the sun go down here. The whole horizon turns into a riot of colors. Her paintings are typically riots of color, so the stark, minimalistic palette in this work is especially striking.
read someone the riot act
Fig. to give someone a severe scolding. The manager read me the riot act for coming in late. The teacher read the students the riot act for their failure to do their assignments.
riot of color
Cliché a selection of many bright colors. The landscape was a riot of color each autumn.
run amokand run amuck
to go awry; to go bad; to turn bad; to go into a frenzy. (From a Malay word meaning to run wild in a violent frenzy.) Our plan ran amok. He ran amuck early in the school year and never quite got back on the track.
run riotand run wild
Fig. to get out of control. The dandelions have run riot in our lawn. The children ran wild at the birthday party and had to be taken home.
read the riot act
Warn or reprimand forcefully or severely, as in When he was caught throwing stones at the windows, the principal read him the riot act . This term alludes to an actual British law, the Riot Act of 1714, which required reading a proclamation so as to disperse a crowd; those who did not obey within an hour were guilty of a felony. [First half of 1800s]
Also, run riot or wild . Behave in a frenzied, out-of-control, or unrestrained manner. For example, I was afraid that if I left the toddler alone she would run amok and have a hard time calming down , or The weeds are running riot in the lawn, or The children were running wild in the playground. Amok comes from a Malay word for "frenzied" and was adopted into English, and at first spelled amuck, in the second half of the 1600s. Run riot dates from the early 1500s and derives from an earlier sense, that is, a hound's following an animal scent. Run wild alludes to an animal reverting to its natural, uncultivated state; its figurative use dates from the late 1700s.
read (someone) the riot act
If someone in authority reads the riot act or reads someone the riot act, they angrily tell someone off for having done something stupid or wrong. I'm glad you read the riot act to Billy. He's still a kid, you know. He still needs to be told what to do. At the weekly cabinet meeting the following day, an enraged Mr Schroder read his ministers the riot act. Note: The Riot Act was a law passed in Britain in 1715. It made it an offence for a group of twelve or more people to refuse to break up and leave if someone in authority read them the relevant section of the Act.
1. If someone runs riot, they behave badly, sometimes violently, and in a way that is not controlled. My older sister Mandy had run riot so my parents were far stricter with me. In these neighbourhoods, gangs are allowed to run riot, terrorising the innocent while the police stay safely away.
2. If something such as imagination or speculation runs riot, it expresses itself or spreads in an uncontrolled way. My imagination ran riot, visualising late nights and weekend parties. We have no proof and when there is no proof, rumour runs riot. Note: In hunting, if the hounds run riot, they follow the scents of other animals rather than the one they are supposed to be chasing.
run amokbehave uncontrollably and disruptively.
Amok , formerly also spelt amuck , comes from the Malay word amuk , meaning ‘in a homicidal frenzy’, in which sense it was first introduced into English in the early 16th century.
1990 New York Review of Books Hersh's article is sensationalism run amok. It does no credit to him or to The New York Times Magazine .
read the riot actgive someone a strong warning that they must improve their behaviour.
The Riot Act was passed by the British government in 1715 in the wake of the Jacobite rebellion of that year and was designed to prevent civil disorder. The Act made it a felony for a group of twelve or more people to refuse to disperse after being ordered to do so and having being read a certain part of the Act by a person in authority. It was not repealed until 1967 .
run riot1 behave in a violent and unrestrained way. 2 (of a mental faculty or emotion) function or be expressed without restraint. 3 proliferate or spread uncontrollably.
run aˈmokbehave in a wild or uncontrolled way: The crowd ran amok through the city streets when they heard their leaders had been killed. Amok comes from the Malay word for ‘attack fiercely’.
read (somebody) the ˈRiot Act(British English) tell somebody forcefully and angrily that you will punish them if they do not stop behaving badly; be angry with somebody who has behaved badly: The headmaster came in and read the Riot Act. He said he would keep us in after school if there was one more complaint about us.In 1715 the Riot Act was passed in Parliament. Groups of more than twelve people were not allowed to meet in public. If they did, an official came to read them the Riot Act, which ordered them to stop the meeting.
run ˈriotget out of control: They allow their children to run riot — it’s not surprising that the house is always in such a mess. ♢ His imagination ran riot as he thought what he would do if he won the money.
n. someone or something entertaining or funny. Tom was a riot last night.
run amok(ˈrən əˈmək)
in. to go awry. (From a Malay word meaning to run wild in a violent frenzy.) Our plan ran amok.
read the riot act
To warn or reprimand energetically or forcefully: The teacher read the riot act to the rowdy class.
read the riot act, to
To issue a severe reprimand. The term comes from a British law, the Riot Act of 1714, which required literally reading aloud a proclamation in order to disperse a crowd (defined as a gathering of twelve or more persons). The proclamation stated, “Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons being assembled immediately to disperse themselves and peaceably to depart to their habitations.” Whoever did not obey within an hour was guilty of a felony punishable by law. By the mid-nineteenth century reading the riot act was used figuratively for a vigorous scolding, as Dickens used it in Barnaby Rudge (1840): “The Riot Act was read.”
run riot, to
To act without restraint or control; to overrun, to grow unrestrainedly. The earliest use of this term dates from the early sixteenth century and appears in a book on farming, John Fitzherbert’s The Boke of Husbandry (1523): “Breake thy tenure, and ren ryot at large.” It is the primary meaning of riot—unruliness and disorder—that was being transferred here and has been so used ever since. “Ye suffer your Tongues to run ryot,” wrote Bishop Joseph Hall (Works, 1656).
See also: run
read the riot act
Criticize harshly. A 1725 British Act of Parliament provided that a magistrate could tell any gathering of a dozen or more people who were creating a civil disturbance to disperse by reading an official statement to that effect. Failure to heed the warning led to arrest (the law remained in effect until 1973). Used popularly, the phrase became the equivalent of “getting a good chewing out,” even if only one person was “read the riot act.”