What Is a Slot?


A slot is a narrow opening, groove, or slit, especially one for receiving something, such as a coin or a letter. It may also refer to:

In computer hardware, a slot is an empty or open position where a peripheral device can be connected. A desktop computer, for example, has several slots for expansion cards. These slots are usually labeled ISA (Industry Standard Architecture), PCI (peripheral component interconnect), or AGP (accelerated graphics port). A slot can also be used to describe an area in a video card that allows for multiple display modes.

The term slot is also used to refer to a specific time or place for an aircraft to take off or land, as authorized by an airport or air-traffic controller:

Another use of the word is in casinos, where it means a machine that has been paid out or is due to pay out. Many people believe that a particular machine is “due” to hit after it has gone long without winning, and this belief is reflected in the placement of machines, with the hot ones often being placed near the end of the aisles where most players are likely to see them.

Many modern slot games have multiple pay lines, allowing players to win on different combinations each time the reels stop. These pay lines can run vertically, horizontally, diagonally, or in V’s, upside down V’s, zigzags, or other patterns. Some slot games also have bonus events that can be triggered when two or more specified symbols appear on the screen, giving players additional chances to win.

Some slots have progressive jackpots that increase over time, as players place coins in the machine. Others have smaller jackpots, but are more consistent in their payouts. Volatility in a slot game is an important factor to consider, as it is indicative of how much risk is involved with that specific game. It is possible to find slots with lower volatility by choosing simpler-made games, or by avoiding those with high volatility entirely.

A slot can also be a position or job in an organization, such as chief copy editor: He has the slot at the Gazette for 20 years now. In ice hockey, it is the unmarked area in front of an opponent’s goal that affords a vantage point for an attacking player. The term is also used figuratively to refer to an opportunity or chance that a person might have to advance up the ranks in their career, such as being promoted to the senior staff. From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Available in libraries everywhere.