[ 2 syll. va-nes-sa, van-e-ssa ] The baby girl name Vanessa is pronounced Vaa-N-S-aa- †. Vanessa's origin is Latin, and its use, English and German. The name was first invented by the Irish poet Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) as a nickname for his lover Esther Vanhomrigh, derived from 'Van' from the Dutch surname Vanhomrigh and the feminine suffix '-essa', probably inspired by the first name Esther. She was fictionalized in Swift's poem Cadenus and Vanessa (1713), with Cadenus referring to himself, and the first name subsequently grew in popularity.
The name Vanessa is widely used; it has 66 variants that are used in English and foreign languages. English variants of the name include Janessa, Nessi, Nessy, Vana, Vanasa, Vanassa, Vaneeta, Vanesha, Vaneshia, Vanesia, Vanessah, Vanesse, Vanessee, Vanessia, Vanessica, Vanetta, Vania, Vaniece, Vaniessa, Vanija, Vanika, Vanisa, Vanissa, Vanita, Vannetta, Vanneza, Vanni, Vannie, Vannysa, and Vanysa. Other English forms include the contracted forms Nessa, Nessie, Van (used in Greek too), and Vanny, the diminutives Nesa, Ness, Vanna (used in Italian too), Vannah, Vanya, and Vennie, and the spelling variants Vaneza, Vannesa, Vannessa, Venesa, Venessa (used in Latin too), Vennesa, Vennessa, and Vinessa. Wanessa (Portuguese) is a variant of Vanessa that is used in foreign languages. The spelling variant Vanesa (Spanish) is another foreign form.
Variant forms share both the origin and meaning of Vanessa.
See also the related form, Danessa.
Vanessa is a popular baby girl name. The name's popularity increased from the 1940s up to the 1980s; before that, it was of only very light use. At the modest height of its usage in 1985, 0.410% of baby girls were named Vanessa. It had a ranking of #42 then. The baby name has seen a decline in popularity since then. In 2016, it ranked at #197 with a usage of 0.086%, but it was nevertheless the most popular within all girl names in its family. Vanessa was 5 times more frequently used than the subsequent ranked name, Janessa, in 2016.
Baby names that sound like Vanessa include Vanesse, Vanessee, Vangee, Vangey, Vangi, Vangie, Vangy, Vaniece, Vanina, Vanka, Vannya, Vanyah, Veanna, Venese, Venesse, Venice, Veniece, Venis, Venise, and Venize.
† Pronunciation for Vanessa: V as in "vow (V.AW)" ; AA as in "odd (AA.D)" ; N as in "knee (N.IY)" ; S as in "see (S.IY)"
Details of famous persons named Vanessa:
Actress Vanessa Anne Hudgens, born 14 December 1988, Salinas, California.
Political Relative Vanessa Kerry, born 31 December 1976.
Singer Vanessa Williams, born 18 March 1963, Millwood, New York.