Printable Version
Pronunciation: rai-yêt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, Verb, intransitive (no object)

Meaning: 1. An uncontrolled, disorderly disturbance by a crowd of people with common intent. 2. Something hilariously fun or funny: 'the movie was a riot'. 3. A multifaceted profusion, as 'a riot of colors'. 4. Pursuit of a wanton, dissolute, or extravagant lifestyle; debauchery, dissipation, as 'live a life of riot'.

Notes: In these days (spring 2020) when peaceful demonstrations slip easily into riots that require riot police, this word's relevance rises. The adjective is riotous, as in 'riotous living'. This word may be used as a verb, allowing participants in riots to be known as rioters.

In Play: A riot is a disorderly if not violent event: "Riots broke out in the school when the principal announced that lunches henceforth would be only vegetarian." It may also refer to an exciting hodge-podge of anything else: "New York is a riot of different cultures: accents, music, dress, and eateries."

Word History: English merely snipped off the E from Old French riote "dispute, quarrel" when it assumed the French word. The French inherited the word from Medieval Latin riota "quarrel, uproar, riot". The Medieval Latin word seems based on ruire "to roar" from classical Latin rugire "to roar". Latin ultimately came by its word from PIE reug- "roar, bellow", source also of Greek orugmos "roaring" and Russian rugat' "chew out, swear at". (Let's now thank one of our most prolific contributors, Rob Towart and a newcomer, Alfie Jordan, for today's most topical word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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