I mean, really…what’s the difference? This lake, that lake, or lake something.
All the Great Lakes begin with the word “lake” – Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, and Lake Superior. Then there’s the little brother of the Great Lakes, Lake Saint Clair. So are we supposed to believe that it’s just the huge lakes that put the word ‘lake’ first’?

That reasoning doesn’t hold water with two of Michigan’s biggest inland lakes, Higgins Lake and Houghton Lake….and for that matter, Torch Lake.

Michigan’s inland is full of other lakes where the word comes after the name, like Portage Lake and Indian Lake. So who decides?

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Many of Michigan’s lakes were named by Indian tribes and then anglicized by the Europeans. The early French settlers also had their say in lake names like Lake Charlevoix, Manistique Lake, and Lake Dubonnet. Many of those early settlers found it fit to name a lake after a town, like Lake Cadillac, or even the shape of the lake, like Crooked Lake, Goose Lake, and Duck Lake. Many lakes were named after people, like Lake Ann and Burt Lake, or even a whole group of people as in Chippewa Lake.

Whatever the reason, each lake name has a certain meaning and history behind it. Trying to uncover the meaning for all of Michigan’s eleven thousand-plus lakes is an unending chore.

So finally, what is the protocol for naming a lake? There is none. It doesn’t matter in the long run if the word ‘lake’ comes before or after. Even though some folks have their own preferences on how to name a lake, there is no rule that states you have to do it a certain way…size or not.

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