from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a mailboat
  • n. a postal marking or cancellation stamped on mail posted at sea or in a harbour for processing by the postal authorities at the next port of call. Mail so marked in one country will often carry the stamps of another country.
  • adj. Relating to mail posted at sea.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

French for mailboat. First used in Great Britain in 1894, the term was adopted for general use by the Universal Postal Union in 1897.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Seems weird these days to come across any kind of -bot that is not a piece of software or autonomous device.

    November 9, 2014

  • Beginning in the 18th Century the term 'packet boat' was applied in the anglophone world to ships (ideally fast vessels) sailing on a regular schedule and charged with carrying the mail, that is, 'packets' of importance. These evolved to carry paying passengers and the French gallicized the term as the single word, 'paquebot,' and used it to mean ‘passenger ship’ then 'ocean liner.' English speakers borrowed 'paquebot' back from the French and used it to mean 'mail boat,' where the word seems to be nothing more than 'packet boat' cordon bleu.

    The term's like a tool often loaned,
    Its provenance lost and bemoaned.
    This helical history
    Gives rise to a mystery:
    By whom is the weary word owned?

    See also:
    Packet boat
    Packet trade

    November 9, 2014

  • The sleek ships over and back go

    Defying the storm and its black blow!

    Our tweets and email

    Quite dismally fail

    To catch the romance of the paquebot.

    November 9, 2014

  • From the French for mailboat. In stamp collecting, a cancellation indicating that an item was mailed aboard a ship. The term was first used in Great Britain in 1894.

    August 27, 2008