A slot is a narrow opening for receiving or admitting something, such as a coin in a vending machine. The term is also used for a position in a sequence or series: The program received a new time slot on the broadcasting schedule. A slot may also refer to a job or position: The candidate was given the “slot” for management training. A slot is also a type of memory device: A computer motherboard has slots for expansion cards, such as an ISA or PCI card.
A notch or gap in something, or the position of such a notch or gap: He put the key into the lock and slotted it closed.
In aviation, an authorization to take off or land at a specific airport at a specified time, granted by an air traffic control authority: Air traffic controllers often have to deal with scheduling conflicts between different airlines wanting to fly at the same times.
Traditionally, electromechanical slot machines had only one symbol per reel, so the odds of winning were limited to a relatively small number of combinations. However, modern slot machines display a multiple of symbols on each reel and use electronics to weight the odds of getting particular symbols appearing on the payline, which can result in much larger jackpots.
A slot is also a position in a game: He played the slot and scored a goal in the first period. In the NFL, a wide receiver who lines up between and slightly behind the outside wide receivers and offensive linemen, and is generally smaller and faster than the other wide receivers: The coach gave the player the “slot” on the team’s second-string offense.
In a video game, a position in the playfield that affords a good view of an opponent: The quarterback had a good slot on the defense’s second-string cornerback.
On a casino floor, a machine where players insert cash or, in ticket-in, ticket-out machines, paper tickets with barcodes: After the player presses a button or pulls a lever, a set of reels spins and stops to rearrange the symbols: if a combination appears on a payline, the player receives credits based on the payout table. Many slot games have a theme and feature symbols such as fruits, bells, or stylized lucky sevens.
In linguistics, the position of a word or phrase in a sentence in which it is inserted, especially in tagmemics, in which a slot is a grammatical function: The phrase “to be honest” fits in the slot before the verb “said”. The word “is” also fits in this slot, but not “has” or “will have”. Also see the article on the slot function in tagmemics. From Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition. Copyright 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Posted with permission by the publisher. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.