run riot: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘run riot’ mean?

"Run riot" is an idiom that means to behave in a wild or uncontrolled manner, often causing chaos or disorder.

Idiom Explorer

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Run riot is a common idiom in English that dates back to the 18th century. It refers to the uncontrolled growth or behavior of plants, animals, or people. When something or someone is said to "run riot," it means they are out of control and causing a disruption.

This idiom gets its meaning from the literal sense of the word "run," which means to move swiftly or quickly. The word "riot" indicates a state of chaos, disturbance, or unruliness. So when something or someone is running riot, it suggests that they are behaving in a disorderly and disruptive manner.

The idiom "run riot" is often used to describe situations where there is an uncontrollable or excessive display of energy, enthusiasm, or activity. This could be used to describe the behavior of a group of people who are causing a ruckus or the growth of plants in a garden that is growing in an uncontrolled and disorderly fashion.

The riot caused a tumultuous and wild run of chaos.

There are other idioms that are related to "run riot" and have a similar meaning. One such idiom is "run wild." When something runs wild, it means it is growing or behaving in an uncontrolled and unrestricted manner. This can be applied to various contexts, from plants spreading and growing untamed to a person's imagination running wild with ideas or fantasies.

Another related idiom is "run amok." This idiom comes from the Malay word "amuk," which means to attack or rage uncontrollably. When someone is said to run amok, it means they are behaving in a frenzied and violent manner, often causing harm to themselves and others. This idiom can be used to describe both physical and emotional outbursts.

One more related idiom is "run rampant." When something runs rampant, it means it is spreading and growing quickly and unchecked. This can be used to describe things like diseases spreading rapidly through a population or rumors spreading like wildfire.

In the end, all of these idioms - run wild, run amok, run rampant - share a similar idea with "run riot": the lack of control and the disruption caused by uncontrolled growth or behavior. They are all used to emphasize the chaotic and disorderly nature of a situation.

The idiom "run riot" is commonly used to describe the uncontrolled growth or behavior of plants, animals, or people. It signifies a lack of control and a disruption in the normal order of things. Other related idioms, such as "run wild," "run amok," and "run rampant," share a similar meaning and highlight the chaotic nature of a situation. These idioms are used in various contexts and can be applied to different scenarios. They all convey the idea of uncontrollable and disorderly behavior or growth.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom *run riot* can be used in a sentence:

  1. The children ran riot in the playground, climbing on everything and making a lot of noise.
  2. During the festival, the streets were filled with revelers running riot, dancing and singing all night long.
  3. After their team won the championship, the fans ran riot in the city, celebrating and causing some damage to property.

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