A narrow notch, groove or opening, such as a keyway in machinery, a slot for coins in a vending machine or the gap between an airplane wing and a flap. Also, the position of a person or vehicle in a sequence, series or pattern, such as a time slot reserved for an airport arrival. To slot something means to place it into a hole or other space: He was able to fit the car seat belt into its slot easily. A slot in a schedule or program is a period of time set aside for an activity: The museum can accommodate visitors at this time slot, so I’ll make sure to slot that appointment in on Wednesday.

A machine that pays out prizes based on combinations of symbols on its reels. A slot can be played using tokens or cash, and it may also be programmed to award progressive jackpots. The payout amount for each spin varies according to the number of matching symbols that land on the pay line, and can be significantly higher if the player has placed a maximum bet.

The earliest slot machines had one or two symbols per reel, and they allowed only a small number of winning combinations. As technology improved, however, manufacturers began to assign weights to different symbols so that each would appear more or less often. This led to the introduction of multi-line slots, which can feature up to 22 different symbols on each reel and a much larger number of possible combinations.

Currently, slot machines can be found in casinos and other gambling establishments throughout the world. They are operated by a variety of companies, including large gaming companies and independent operators. While they are often the most popular form of gambling, slot machines can be a risky proposition for those who do not manage their bankroll carefully. Keeping a budget and playing within it is the best way to avoid losing big money.

Slot is also a term that refers to the position of a ship or aircraft in its flight path. It is often determined by radar equipment, but may be adjusted by the pilot or engineer as necessary to maintain the proper vertical profile for safe operations.

A slot in a computer program is a location or period of time that can be allocated for storing data, or executing a command. The word is derived from the Middle Low German slot, or Dutch sleut, which meant “door-bolt.” The sleut was secured in a recess, or “slot,” on the door of a lock. The slot was usually made from a metal or other strong material to prevent the sleut from moving freely in the lock. A slot in a schedule or program may be reserved for a particular activity, such as an appointment with a doctor. The time may be booked a week or more in advance. The word is also used in the sense of a time period that has been assigned to a specific activity, such as a meeting or interview: I can slot you in at 2 pm.