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Word Nerd: "o'erperch"
Context and Language Videos
Act 2,
Scene 2
Lines 62-69

An explanation of the word "o'erperch" in Act 2, Scene 2 of myShakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

myShakespeare | Romeo and Juliet 2.2 Word Nerd: "perch"


How camest thou hither, tell me, and wherefore?
The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,
And the place death, considering who thou art,
If any of my kinsmen find thee here.


With love's light wings did I o'erperch these walls,
For stony limits cannot hold love out;
And what love can do, that dares love attempt.
Therefore thy kinsmen are no stop to me.
Video Transcript: 

SARAH: Perch derives from the latin word pertica which meant a rod or a pole used as a support or as a unit of measurement.

RALPH: Much later it came to refer to a rod used as a resting place for domesticated hawks.

SARAH: Thus, the verb, to perch, eventually took on its modern meaning, as in “a bird perches on a high branch.” Or by extension, anything that occupies an elevated position can be said to “perch.”

RALPH: Here, Shakespeare is inventing the word “overperch” to describe Romeo flying, with love’s light wings, to the top of the garden wall, and then down to the other side.