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What does Vanessa mean?

Vanessa Pronunciation of Vanessa [vanes-sa] as a girls' name is pronounced va-NESS-ah. It is of Greek origin, and the meaning of Vanessa is "butterfly". The name of a genus of butterflies that includes the Red Admiral and the Painted Lady. Also possibly an early-18th-century literary name of English origin created by Jonathan Swift for "Gulliver's Travels" as a pseudonym for Esther Vanhomrigh, based on the first syllable of her surname, and possibly the Latin verb "esse", meaning "to be". Jenessa, Vanita and Vannaleigh are compound forms. See also Venetia. Actresses Vanessa Redgrave, Vanessa Williams; celebrity Vanna White.

Associated with: greek, red, lady (noble), 18th century, literary, surname, compound (blend), white.


Vanessa has 50 variants: Jenessa, Nessa, Nessie, Nessy, Van, Vanassa, Vaneeta, Vanesa, Vanesha, Vaneshia, Vanesia, Vanesse, Vanessia, Vanetta, Vaneza, Vania, Vaniece, Vaniessa, Vanija, Vanisa, Vanissa, Vanita, Vanna, Vannaleigh, Vannesa, Vannessa, Vannetta, Vanneza, Vannie, Vanya, Varnessa, Venesa, Venesha, Venessa, Venesse, Venessea, Venetta, Veniesa, Venisha, Venishia, Venna, Vennesa, Vennessa, Vennisa, Vinesha, Vinessa, Vinisha, Vonessa, Vonesse and Vonnessa.

Related girl names: Janessa and Nissa.

9 more relations via Jenessa, Vanna, Venetia: Gianessa, Janessa, Jinessa, Vana, Vanecia, Vanetia, Venecia, Venezia and Vinetia.

Creative forms:
(female) Vanesca, Vanesta, ..

(male) Vaneser, Vanesis, ..

Middle name pairings:
Vanessa Annistyn (V.A.), ..

How popular is Vanessa?

Vanessa is a very prominent first name for women (#195 out of 4276, Top 5%) but an uncommon surname for both adults and children. (2000 U.S. Demographics)

Vanessa entered the list in 1940-1949 and reached its highest rank of #47 in the U.S. during 1980-1989, and is at #185 presently. (Top 2000 Names, 2015)

Top 2000 baby names ranking of Vanessa name in U.S.

Top 100 baby names ranking of Vanessa outside U.S.

Which version is better?

with its variant forms and related girl names. Prominent variation forms of Vanessa (#185 the previous year) are Janessa (#721 the previous year), Jenessa, Nissa, Van, Vanesa, Vania, Vanita, Vannessa, Vannie, Venessa and Venetia. Other variants, like Vanecia, are seldom used. These forms of Vanessa were at the top of their popularity during the years 1980-1989 (adoption of 0.49%) and are now significantly less widespread (adoption 0.14%, 72% less). Vanessa has generally been the top pick of parents, although Janessa appears to be gaining favor too, while versions like Vanessa have become less contemporary.

Top 2000 baby names ranking of Vanessa, Janessa, Jenessa, Nissa, Van in U.S.

Top 2000 baby names ranking of Vanesa, Vania, Vanita, Vannessa, Vannie in U.S.

Top 2000 baby names ranking of Venessa, Venetia in U.S.

Top 100 baby names ranking of Vanessa outside U.S.

Similar Names

Vanessa is alike in pronunciation to Venusa. Other recommended names are Agnessa, Anessa, Arnessa, Caressa, Danessa, Genessa, Inessa, Jalessa, Janeesa, Janess, Janesse, Janessia (see Janice), Janissa, Jannessa, Jonessa, Kanesha, Karessa, Katessa, Lanesha, Lanessa, Lynessa, Maressa, Ranessa, Shanessa, Tanesha and Valeska. These names tend to be less commonly used than Vanessa.

See names
in meaning and etymology.