packet boat

noun
variants: or less commonly packet ship

Definition of packet boat 

1 : a boat (as originally a fast sailing ship) chartered by a government to carry mail and dispatches letters … conveyed by government packet boats or by ordinary sailing ship— Samuel Graveson

2a : a river or coastal steamer usually of shallow draft carrying mail, passengers, and cargo on a regular run took passage for Boston on the midweek packet boat— Kenneth Roberts

b : a canalboat designed to carry passengers

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