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When looking up the definition of 音物 (a present or a bribe), I thought it was very odd that it contained the kanji 音. I can't think of what 音 (sound) could have to do with presents or bribes.

Is there some significance that is being lost in translation or am I just overthinking this?

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Note: 1) Also read as inbutu. 2) Also written as 引物. – Dono May 30 '12 at 23:19
@Dono Sorry, didn't know it had another reading/writing. I heard it in a song as いんもつ and looked up the lyrics to see it written as 音物. – atlantiza May 30 '12 at 23:35
No need to apologize. I was just making a note in case it would lead to an answer. – Dono May 30 '12 at 23:39
up vote 3 down vote accepted

(Aside: I did not know the word 音物.)

One of the meanings of the kanji is “message,” that is, a piece of information sent from one person to another. 音信 (as in 音信不通) and 福音 seem to be the most common examples of 音 with this meaning. The reason 音物 (present; often refers to bribe) contains kanji 音 because a present is something which is sent from one person to another.

It is the best to look up a 漢和辞典 (a dictionary which explains kanji letters in Japanese) for questions like this, but the Daijisen dictionary, which is available online (linked above), contains entries for common kanji letters and comes in handy here.

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