- "く" is a hiragana letter pronounced "ku"
- "ノ" is a katakana letter pronounced "no"
- "一" is a kanji letter pronounced "ichi" (and meaning "one").
The word "kunoichi" was not used frequently in Edo period. This is probably because in this era, kanji letter "女" was not written in regular script but usually in cursive script and the cursive script of "女" can not be decomposed into "く", "ノ", and "一".Yoshimaru:p168
History of use
The eighth volume of the ninja handbook Bansenshukai written in the late 17th century describes Kunoichi-no-jutsu (くノ一の術). This can be translated as "a technique to use a female"Yoshimaru:p170 and was employed for infiltration purposes. The meaning "female ninja" might be a purely modern use, that possibly first appeared in the novel Ninpō Hakkenden (忍法八犬伝) written by Futaro Yamada in 1964 and became popularized in the following years.Yoshimaru:p184
- Mochizuki Chiyome, a legendary Japanese woman claimed to be a kunoichi leader
- Onna-bugeisha, the samurai women
- Seiko Fujita, From Ninjutsu to Spy Warfare (忍術からスパイ戦へ). Higashi Shisha, 1942.