a narrow notch or groove, as in a keyway or a slot for a coin in a vending machine. a position in a group, series, or sequence; an allotment or assignment.

In a slot machine, a player inserts cash or, in “ticket-in, ticket-out” machines, a paper ticket with a barcode into a designated slot on the machine. Then the machine activates reels that rearrange symbols to match a winning combination according to a pay table. The symbols vary depending on the game theme, but classics include fruits, bells and stylized lucky sevens. Some slot games have additional features such as bonus rounds and free spins.

A slot is also the name for an open time period that can be used to schedule meetings or other events. For example, health care providers may use the slot-based method of scheduling to organize appointments for urgent care, routine checkups and consultations with patients. Organizing work events by using time slots can help teams stay focused and prioritize tasks.

You’ve checked in, made your way through security and found your seat on the plane — but now you’re waiting for the flight to take off. Why can’t you just go? You have to wait for a slot. And it could be a long time.