Vanessa (name)

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Meaningcoined from Esther Vanhomrigh (Van + Es → Vanessa)
Other names
Short form(s)Vany, Ness, Nessa, Vanny, Vaness, Nessi, Vans, Nester, Nessie, Nessy, V, Van, Nane, Vane
Related namesVanesa (Spanish), Vanessza (Hungarian), Wanesa (Polish), Vanasia

Vanessa is a feminine given name, especially popular in the United States, Germany and Brazil. It was invented by the Anglo-Irish writer Jonathan Swift for Esther Vanhomrigh, whom Swift had met in 1708 and whom he tutored. The name was created by taking "Van" from Vanhomrigh's last name and adding "Essa", a pet form of Esther.[1]

In 1726 the name Vanessa appeared in print for the first time in Cadenus and Vanessa, an autobiographical poem about Swift's relationship with Vanhomrigh. Swift had written the poem in 1713, but it was not published until three years after Vanhomrigh died. Vanessa was adopted as the name of a genus of butterfly by Johan Christian Fabricius in 1807.

Vanessa was the 71st most popular name for girls born in the United States in 2007. It has been among the top 200 names for girls in the United States since 1953 and among the top 100 names for girls since 1977. It first appeared among the top 1,000 names for girls in the United States in 1950, when it appeared on the list ranked in 939th place.[2]

In Germany, Vanessa has been among the top 100 names for girls since 1976. The name became more and more popular and was the 7th most popular name for girls in the 1990s. In the following years its popularity dropped and the name is ranked in 42nd place for the decade 2000–2009.[3]

List of people with the given name[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]


  1. ^ DeGategno, Paul J.; R. Jay Stubblefield (2006). Critical Companion to Jonathan Swift. p. 42.
  2. ^ "Social Security Administration".
  3. ^ "Popularity of the name Vanessa in Germany".

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