What does Vanessa mean?
Vanessa \v(a)-nessa, van(es)-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.
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.
Vanessa has 20 more related variations via Jenessa, Vanna, Venetia: Gianessa, Janessa, Jinessa, Lavanna, Vana, Vanecia, Vanetia, Venecia, Venezia, Venice, Venicia, Venise, Venita, Venitia, Venize, Venizia, Vennice, Vinetia, Vonitia and Vonizia.
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. Census)
Shown below is the birth name popularity of Vanessa for girls. Vanessa entered the list in 1950-1959 and reached its highest rank of #46 in the U.S. during 1980-1989, and is at #171 presently. (Top 1000 Birth Names Statistics, 2014)
Prominent variation forms of Vanessa (#171 the previous year) are Janessa (#761 the previous year), Vanesa, Vannie, Venessa and Venita. These girl names were at the top of their popularity in the year 2002 (usage of 0.2388%) and are somewhat less popular today (usage 0.178%, down 25.5%). Janessa (#761) and Vanessa (#171) are two of the more chic names for newborns among these. Below is a graphed comparison of the usage of Vanessa and related names. (Top 1000 Birth Names Statistics, 2014)