Girl Names baby nameVanessa

What does the name Vanessa mean?

The meaning of the name “Vanessa” is: “Butterfly”.

Additional information: There are two probably origins of the name Vanessa. The most popular story says that the name was created by Irish writer Jonathan Swift as a pet name for a woman, Esther Vanhomrigh, to whom he was very close. By rearranging the names “Van”homrigh and “Es”ther, he came up with Vanessa (“Essa” being a diminutive form of Esther). The second possible origin is that the name comes from the Greek goddess Phanessa. From either origin, the name takes the meaning "butterfly" and was even used to name a genus of butterflies in the 1800s.

No alternate spellings exist for this name, but it has variations in other languages including Vanesa, Wanesa, Vanasia, Vane, and Vanessza. The most frequently used short forms of Vanessa are Nessa, Van, Ness, or Vee (also V) and other less common short forms include Nessy, Vanny, Vans, Nester, or Vaness. Nessa is sometimes used as a given name on its own, being taken from the full name Vanessa.

Vanessa has been a popular name in the US starting from the 1950s through to 2014 with a peak of popularity at 41st most popular female baby names in 1988. The highest popularity this name has ever held is being the 3rd most popular female baby name in Switzerland in 1997. Since that time Vanessa has seen a downward trend in usage in Switzerland, and 2013 it placed at 72nd most popular. Canada experienced a similar trend with the name being the 23rd most popular female baby name in 1986 but falling out of the top 100 in 2009. Worldwide it was ranked the 20th most popular female baby name in Mexico, the 52nd most popular in Austria, the 69th most popular in the Czech Republic, the 81st most popular in Poland, and the 88th most popular name Croatia in 2014.

Famous people named Vanessa include Vanessa Hudgens, a singer; Vanessa Marano, an actress; Vanessa Carlton, a singer; Vanessa Williams, an actress and Vanessa Redgrave, actress.