You’ve checked in, made it through security, found the gate, queued to get on board, struggled with the overhead lockers and settled back into your seat. Then you hear the captain say, “We’re waiting for a slot.” What is a slot and why can’t we take off as soon as we’re ready?
A slot is a position in a group, series, sequence, or hierarchy. It can also refer to a position at an airport or a time window when air traffic control gives authorization for flights to take off or land.
The word is derived from the Old English “scea” meaning to cut or carve. The first known use of the word was in 1473 to describe a cut-out portion of an object. In modern usage, the word is mostly used to refer to a position in a series or sequence, as in “a slot in the schedule” or “a slot on the shelf.”
Slot – a narrow notch, groove, or opening, such as a keyway in a machine or a slit for a coin in a vending machine
A slot can also be a position in an organization or hierarchy. The term is sometimes used to denote a position for an employee, such as the “slot” for an assistant manager in a retail store.
In slot machines, players insert cash or, in ticket-in, ticket-out (TITO) machines, a paper ticket with a barcode into a designated slot on the machine. The machine then activates a reel or multiple reels, which display symbols that can match a paytable pattern to earn credits. Many slots have multiple winning combinations, and each combination has a specific probability of appearing. A machine may be programmed to weight certain symbols differently, which can change the odds of a particular outcome.
A Slot receiver is a position in American football that requires a great deal of practice to master. They are usually positioned close to the middle of the field and must be able to read defenses well in order to block them effectively. Slot receivers also need to be able to act as ball carriers on pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds from time to time. These running plays require the Slot receiver to be able to run routes with speed and to block (or chip) nickelbacks, outside linebackers, and safeties. This is a difficult job to do, and it is one reason why the Slot receiver is so important to an offense.