The name Vanessa is primarily a female name of English origin that has an unknown or unconfirmed meaning.Invented by the poet Jonathan Swift for his friend Esther Van Homrigh. It's the combination of the names Van and Esther. Vanessa Marcil, actress. Vanessa Hudgens, singer/actress. Vanessa Williams, actress/singer. Vanessa Angel, actress. Vanessa Rousso, professional poker player and reality TV star.