Originally published in the Scotsman on 20 August 2016
Today the Gaelic form of the popular holiday destination Aviemore is An Aghaidh Mhòr ‘the big face’, and this can be seen on the wooden sign at the train station. One hundred years ago, however, the form of the name was Agaidh Mhòr ‘big Agaidh’. The meaning of the element agaidh is not known, although it possibly relates to eag ‘notch’ or ‘cleft’. Be that as it may, agaidh also appears nearby in the name Avielochan ~ Agaidh an Lochain ‘the agaidh of the little loch’. The element also possibly appears in the names Blargie ~ Blàragaidh and Gallovie ~ Gealagaidh.
When Gaelic was in decline in the area, some said Aviemore was in Gaelic A’ Ghaoth Mhòr ‘the big wind’. This form is of course fanciful, as it neither makes sense as a name, nor does it match the stress pattern of the English form.
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