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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Vanessa \Van*es"sa\ (v[a^]n*[e^]s"s[.a]), n. [Probably from Swift's poem of Cadenus and Vanessa. See Vanessa, in the Dictionary of Noted Names in Fiction.] (Zool.) Any one of numerous species of handsomely colored butterflies belonging to Vanessa and allied genera. Many of these species have the edges of the wings irregularly scalloped. [1913 Webster]