What Is a Slot?

A slot is a narrow opening, especially in a machine or container. It can also refer to a position or time in a sequence or program. For example, a visitor might book a time slot at a museum exhibition months in advance. The word is also used in sports to refer to the unmarked area between face-off circles on an ice hockey rink, or the space in the corner of a box where a goal can be scored.

In a computer, a slot is a section of memory that stores data and programs. It can be configured to store one or more types of files, and it may be protected by a password to prevent unauthorized access. In addition to slots, computers can have other kinds of storage devices, such as disk drives, which are typically protected by a case or other enclosure.

Historically, a slot was a narrow, continuous opening in a cable street-railroad track through which the grip on a car passed to connect with the traveling cable. Its name derived from its shape, which was similar to the letter “S.” A slot is also a small, unmarked gap in the side of a ship’s hull, through which water or air might pass.

Modern slot machines have reels with a number of stops on each, and symbols that appear on the reels. The goal of the game is to line up matching symbols on pay lines, which are defined by the machine. Most slot games have a theme, and the symbols and bonus features are aligned with that theme.

A slot is a notch, groove, or narrow opening, especially one for receiving something, as a key in a lock or the end of a nail. A slot is also a position in a sequence or program, or an assignment or job opening. It can also refer to an opportunity for a reward or promotion.

When someone says that something is in the slot, it means that it is in the right place. He put the CD into the player and it slid in easily. When someone slots something into another thing, it fits snugly and securely. For example, the seat belt in his car slotted into the buckle easily.

Slot is also a verb, meaning to put something into a vacancy or position. For example, he was a good fit for the position because he had the experience and qualifications. Similarly, you could say that someone has the slot of a good father because he is a loving, caring, and supportive parent. This article uses colloquial language and may contain sensitive content. It does not reflect the opinions of Oxford University Press or its licensors. You can report offensive or insensitive content to us.