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Updated February 8, 2024

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Girl name origins & meanings

  • Ancient Greek : variation of the name Phanessa, mystic goddess and daughter of Pandora; butterfly
  • Latin: variation of Venus, goddess of Love 

What Does Vanessa Mean and Stand For? 

The name Vanessa comes from the Greek name Phanessa, goddess of an Ancient Greek brotherhood and daughter of Pandora. Vanessa is also the name of a genus of butterflies. The English version of the name can be credited to 18th century author Jonathan Swift (most noted for Gulliver's Travels) who used it as a pseudonym for his lover, Esther Vanhomrigh. 

Syllables: 3

How Popular Is The Name Vanessa

Famous people with this first name

Famous people who gave their babies this name

What Does the Name Vanessa Mean? 

Vanessa is a girls' name of Greek and Latin origin, coming from the goddesses Phanessa and Venus, respectively. In some instances, the name is believed to mean "butterfly." It has long been a popular name in the U.S. and across the globe. 

How Popular is the Name Vanessa 

Vanessa is the #208 most popular name in the U.S., according to Social Security Administration data. Since the year 2000, it has been slowly declining in popularity. However, it is the 22nd most popular name on 

According to Google search data analysis, in the last five years Vanessa was at its peak popularity in February 2020. 

Popularity of the Name Vanessa in the United States 

Vanessa was searched for most often in the following states: 

  • California
  • New Jersey
  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
  • Texas 

Famous People Named Vanessa and Vanessa in Pop Culture 

Famous Vanessas include High School Musical actress Vanessa Hudgens, singer Vanessa Carlton, and British actress Vanessa Redgrave. 

Vanessa Abrahams is a character of the popular early 2000s TV series Gossip Girl. Vanessa is also the name that Ursula uses when disguised as a human in The Little Mermaid.

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