The Real Name for “Lake Webster”

 The exchange below will help provide a context for the story you can read once you click on the “MSN” link.

Maybe you know some place names that are rivals for such as the Indian name for this place. . . .


Lake with 45-letter name has spelling errors

body{font-family: Geneva,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;font-size:9pt;background-color: #ffffff;color: black;}Verrrrrrrry inneresting,  Ron.  I’ve seen signs for towns at train depots in Wales that have excruciatingly long sequences of letters.  But the “real name” for Lake Webster would rival some of those.  I’ll try to get this posted on my Web site.  (I’ve also read somewhere the same translation for the name that you supplied.)

Thanks much,


Lake with 45-letter name has spelling errors

Thought you’d be interested in this, Dad. I spent some time around Lake Webster when I lived in Providence. A friend of mine, who’d grown up near there, could say the full 45-letter name accurately.

Officials have agreed to correct spelling errors in road signs pointing to a central Massachusetts lake with a 45-letter name.


7 Responses to “The Real Name for “Lake Webster””


    I feel that the long Indian name is more of a ceramonial CHANT! than just a name in general! It would be chanted in series and not necesarily the whole word at once. but in sylables and some reputitiously! I have seen this in several POW_WOWs throughout the region and would prolly be used more with the western tribes traditionally! or at least its origin.


    By the way! Very nice to see you today!

  3. Tammy Stephens Says:

    Thanks for sharing this, didn’t know about it.

    Very interesting,
    Thanks for that info.

  4. Kim Says:

    The original article is at: Everyone wants to get in on the story but nobody shows the whole article. It was my daughter who convinced them to seriously consider changing the signs and they remove her name from all other articles. I’m proud of her for realizing it was misspelled and then for actually taking the initiative to contact the newspaper and the chamber of commerce. How many 19 year old would do that?

  5. Jack Says Says:

    Here’s the original article.
    April 14. 2009 12:00AM

    Misspelling on lake signs to get overdue correction


    WEBSTER — Signs for the difficult-to-spell-and-say lake will be fixed.

    The Webster-Dudley-Oxford Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors has unanimously agreed to correct the spelling problems on the signs on Route 12 near Oxford and Route 193 near Thompson.

    The 45-letter name is misspelled, with an “o” where a “u” should be, at letter 20, and an “h” instead of “n” at letter 38.

    The chamber is researching its records to find out who painted the signs. The signs will either go back to that company or another will handle the correction, according to Eleanor F. Houbre, director of chamber services.

    Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg is the most widely accepted spelling of the name of the the 3-mile long, 1-milewide lake.

    The U.S. Geographic Names Information Systems Web site lists about two dozen variations of the lake’s spelling, but none that corresponds with the chamber of commerce signs, which where replaced in 2003.

    “I want to get my little paintbrush because it would be very easy to fix,” said Carla Manzi, editor of and owner of Webster Lake Gifts.

    An official at the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority said in 2003 the agency provided a tourism grant to the local chamber for upgrades to two destination signs and other improvements around the lake. But the state wasn’t involved in the sign repairs or approving content.

    State Rep. Paul J. Kujawski, D-Webster, said last week the original signs were damaged from wear and tear years ago, and he was involved with having them replaced. Incorrect information may have been given to the vendor, but he said he wasn’t sure. Echoing Ms. Houbre, he said, “We can contact the people who were involved with it and see what we can do.”

    The miscue was first written about by a Telegram & Gazette columnist in October 2003, a few weeks after the new signs were placed. The columnist wrote about it again in September 2004. The New York Times reported on the misspelling in November 2004. Ms. Manzi said she thought the exposure from a national publication would have brought more attention to it.

    Jessica L. Bizzak, 19, an Arizona resident who had lived in Fitchburg, noticed the misspelling recently while she and her uncle visited her great-grandmother and other family members in Fitchburg and Leominster. Miss Bizzak said her uncle, Christopher T. Therrien, who had also lived in Fitchburg and Dudley, and now lives in Florida, has told tales about the lake that piqued her interest. She said she always thought he was joking about its name.

    Richard D. Cazeault, president of the nonprofit Webster Lake Association, said he feels bad the signs are wrong, but given the bad economy, he’s simply glad signs were provided.

    Exactly how to spell it has been debated, according to Mr. Cazeault. “I had a guy do some research on this four or five years ago,” Mr. Cazeault said, adding that people complained about the spelling on the association’s decal.

    That research, from hundreds of resources and Internet searches, found the aforementioned 45-letter version was the most popular.

    The second-most popular was the 49-letter Chargoggagoggmanchauggauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, which was how it was spelled on the original signs, according to a photo shown by Ms. Manzi.

    The 45-letter version was found in 949 articles and references such as an encyclopedia, Indian Ranch,, and others. However, a more than 100-year-old survey map uses one less g at the end of the name, Mr. Cazeault said.

    The 49-letter version was found in 382 articles. All other spellings were found in fewer than 100 sources, he said.

    Mr. Cazeault said after all the research was done, “People said, ‘I don’t care what your investigation said. It’s still wrong.’ So this is an unbelievable situation, but there’s so much history on those signs.”

    Author Paul J. Macek of Webster said the version with 45 letters, including 15 g’s, is accurate.

    Mr. Macek devotes an entire chapter to the lake in his 2000 book “Early History of Webster, Dudley and Oxford.” A history and English teacher at St. Peter-Marian Central Catholic Junior-Senior High School in Worcester, Mr. Macek said he talks about the lake all the time with students.

    The signs near the Thompson line sit right outside the home of Theresa A. Robinson, who said many people stop to look or take pictures. Ms. Robinson said she had no idea it was misspelled.

  6. Jack Says Says:

    It was an arizona teen who called the Worcester telegram and the Webster Chamber of commerce. Lake Chag or Lake Webster is getting a lot of international press on this and the article has been cut to what and where and leaving out the Who, How the ruckus got started.

  7. Raymond Rundus Says:

    Well, I am somewhat overwhelmed by the extent and intensity of several of the responses to my initial posting (using Seattle Ron’s information) about the derivation and spelling of the 45-49 letter Native American name for what has been popularly known as “Lake Webster.” (Admittedly: much easier for English speakers and writers to spell and say)

    Thanks especially to Kim, Jack, and “Concerned Citizen” for their interest in accurate orthography (and pronunciation also to an extent) of this place.

    Many of our place names in this country derive from the indigenous peoples and their (spoken) names for rivers and lakes, valleys and mountains, fields and forests, and many other topographical features. Some of us likely could quite quickly make a list of a hundred or more toponyms (good word that, and another “nym”) in that category.

    I would mention at the moment that Lawrence Locklear, activist and officer in the Lumbee tribe and a staffer at UNCP, has been working on tracing the origin of the word “Lumbee.” One of the outcomes of this research project may be a strong recommendation to rename the prominent river in Robeson County the “Lumbee.”

    As a perhaps somewhat irrelevant query on this topic, I would like to know who the “Webster” was that the lake and the town in Massachusetts were named after. Daniel? Noah? If the latter, it would be somewhat ironic that the great dictionary maker and grammarian (some of his spellings are rather contrarian) would have in a sense stirred up such a discussion.


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