What’s a Slot?

A thin opening or groove in something: The mail slot on the door, a slit for coins in a gumball machine, or the place where you put your coin to make the telephone ring. Also: The place in a program or schedule where an activity can take place: Visitors can book time slots a week or more in advance.

In football, the position of a wide receiver who runs routes that correspond with those of other wide receivers in an attempt to confuse the defense and open up big gains downfield. Slot receivers often have higher injury risks than other players on the team because they are close to the line of scrimmage and thus more likely to get hit by opposing defensive backs or tacklers.

An assigned, scheduled time and place for an aircraft to take off or land: We can’t find a flight that fits in with our schedule, but there are plenty of other options. —Daniel W., CEO, AirSea Airlines

In computer programming, a small block of memory in which information is stored. Each time a program is executed, the instructions for that block are read and translated into machine code by the microprocessor, which then executes the instructions within the processor, and then the code in turn translates it into the instructions needed to perform a specific task, such as displaying a window or retrieving data from a database.

A slot in a video game is an area on the screen where the player places coins or, in “ticket-in, ticket-out” machines, paper tickets with barcodes. The player then presses a button (either physical or virtual) to activate the reels, which stop to rearrange the symbols and award credits based on the pay table printed on the machine’s face. The payouts vary from machine to machine and can include themes such as fruits, bells, and stylized lucky sevens.

In warehouse operations, ABC slotting involves storing the most popular merchandise closest to the picking line and the least-popular items farther away. This helps to reduce product handling and inventory management costs.