In an episode of QI (series G, episode ‘Girls and Boys’), Stephen Fry says that there is a camp High Church (Anglican) cant/language game (like Pig Latin), where Holy Communion becomes ‘Haggers Commagers’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ becomes ‘Jessica Christ’.

  • “There is also a very camp High Church nonsense language, in which "Holy Communion" is called "Haggers commagers" and "Jessica Christ" for "Jesus Christ".”

However, in searching, I have found no evidence as to this existing. Is there such a slang in the Church of England, and if so, were the examples Fry gave correct?

  • Slang can be very localised (and short-lived). Do you want to know if it's possible it existed somewhere or whether it is/was a documented 'feature' of the Anglican high church? Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 10:57
  • 1
    QI is a game show. The format focuses on the panellists answering questions that are extremely obscure. Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 11:11
  • 2
    What are slangs? What's "a" slang? Slang is not a count noun. An expression might be considered slang, but it can't be considered "a" slang.
    – tchrist
    Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 11:37
  • I don't know of any (direct) connection with the Church of England, but I have heard of this style of word being used by Oxbridge students in the late 19th/early 20th century (that's where soccer for Association Football came from). I found this Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 11:37
  • 2
    Jessica! exclamation (S.Afr. gay) a euph. for Jesus! excl. 2003 [SA] K. Cage Gayle. (GDoS)
    – Gio
    Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


Haggers Commagers

This looks like slang where the end of the word is replaced by "aggers". Some more insight is given in Fry's Moab is My Washpot:

"Wagger," or "wagger-pagger-bagger," which was used to denote "waste-paper basket," is an example of that strange argot prevalent in the 1920s and 1930s that caused the Prince of Wales to be known as the Pragger-Wagger. Even today, in the giddy world of High Anglicanism in such temples of bells, smells and cotters as St. Mary's, Bourne Street, SW3, I have heard with my own two ears Holy Communion referred to by pert, campy priests as "haggers-commaggers" and my mother still describes the agony and torture of anything from toothache to an annoying traffic jam as "aggers and torters."

Oxonist mentions an -aggers suffix which is used in Quagger, Jaggers, Staggers and also in a slightly different form in Ugger, Wugger. Prince Michael (even if he's not the Pragger Wagger) attests "the Coronaggers".

Really, it's almost like some sort of pragger jogger.

Cross referencing everything, many of these words appear on Wikipedia's page for Oxford "-er", which means that's it's probably Oxford slang that spread. (Of the all the words, soccer and preggers are well known outside England.)

Jessica Christ

I have not found anything on this but the fact that Fry encountered the other terms through his day to day life means that I'm inclined to believe he's right.

The Green's Dictionary of Slang entry found by Gio gives solid evidence that "Jessica" is used to mean "Jesus" somewhere (apparently in the South African gay community) but I can't see how this would be related to any British or especially High Church usage.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.