SCOTLAND’S national tourist agency is under fire over the real meaning of a Gaelic word is has adapted for a winter visitor campaign.

VisitScotland is promoting “Còsagach” to rival the Danish concept of Hygge. It says it’s the Gaelic word for feeling snug, sheltered and warm, and it has been identified as a “top trend” for 2018.

But leading Gaelic campaigners claim the word has been misinterpreted and they have accused VisitScotland of insensitivity.

Mark Wringe, a senior lecturer at the Gaelic College Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye, said that còsagach actually meant a small hole where insects live.

Mr Wringe, programme leader for the Gaelic language and culture degree, believes the tourist body found an “obscure, archaic” meaning of the word in an old dictionary. He said when he asked his Gaelic-speaking friends about còsagach, none of them recognised VistScotland’s interpretation.

He added: “To most of us it would be a wee hidey hole or nook that a creepy crawly might live in.”

Hygge is described in the distionary as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”.

According to Gaelic dictionary Dwelly-d còsagach can also mean “spongy” or “full of crevices”.

Gaelic writer Calum Macleod has also accused the body of lacking respect for the language. He accused the tourism agency of failing to consult Gaelic speakers on their choice of language – a charge rejected by VisitScotland.

He said: “It’s not hard to find reliable Gaelic speakers in Scotland. Don’t pretend to know something.

“It’s not your toy to play with. It’s a living, vibrant language spoken by lots of people in Scotland.”

He added: “They’ve got lots of publicity which is one positive but they’ve made the classic mistake of thinking that no one speaks the Gaelic language, so they can play with it and make it what they want.”

VisitScotland vigorously defended itself, insisting the meaning of còsagach has evolved.

Tourism insight manager Chris Greenwood said còsagach originally meant “full of holes or crevices” but had evolved to mean “snug, sheltered or cosy”.

He added: “Scotland evokes that feeling of warmth ... particularly during winter, when visitors can ‘coorie-in’ at the many snug and cosy places across the country.