Jonathan Swift invented the name Vanessa

The name “Vanessa” was invented by the Anglo-Irish writer Jonathan Swift, and it appeared in print for the first time in his autobiographical poem Cadenus and Vanessa, about his relationship with Esther Vanhomrigh.

He created it by taking “Van” from her last name, and adding “Essa”, a pet form of Esther.

The name has been one of the most popular feminine given names in both the United States and Germany.



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