Contemptuous name applied to vessels propelled by steam-power, whether steamers, men-of-war, or any other craft.
“These steam-kettles of ours can never be depended upon. I wish we
could go back to the good old sailing ships. When we had them we knew
what we were about. ... Now we trust to
machinery, and it fails us in time of need.” —
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894