mid-15c., paket, "a little package or parcel" (late 12c. as a surname), "in earliest use applied to a parcel of letters or dispatches, and esp. to the State parcel or 'mail' of dispatches to and from foreign countries" [OED], from Middle English pak "bundle" (see pack (n.)) + diminutive suffix -et; perhaps modeled on Anglo-French pacquet (Old French pacquet), which ultimately is a diminutive of Middle Dutch pak or some other continental Germanic word cognate with the English one. A packet boat (1640s) originally was one that carried mails from country to country or port to port, then generally a vessel starting at regular dates and appointed times. In data transmission, packet-switching is attested from 1971.
bite-sized square pasta packet containing various food, a classic Italian dish, 1610s, from Middle English raffyolys, also rafyols (late 14c.). The word probably was re-borrowed several times, most recently in 1841, from Italian ravioli, a dialectal plural of raviolo, a diminutive of an unidentified noun, perhaps of rava "turnip" (presuming they were among the original ingredients) or Genoese dialect rabiole "leftovers, odds and ends."
trans-Atlantic shipping line begun by Samuel Cunard (1787-1865), shipowner, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, who won the first British transatlantic steamship mail contract in 1839 and the next year formed the British and North American Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company (reorganized 1879 as Cunard Steamship Company).
The family came to Pennsylvania with Penn in 1683, where their descendants are the Conrads; the shipping magnate's line took an older spelling; his grandfather was a Loyalist who fled to Canada after the Revolution.