Slot is a noun from the late 14c., and refers to a hollow space between the breastbone and the base of the throat. This word is related to the Old French verb esclot, though the word is of uncertain origin. Old Norse slod, meaning “hole,” also appears as a synonym. The first recorded use of slot in English was in 1520, and the word “slot machine” dates from 1888.

Another name for a slot is “syntactic role.” The slots are the names for a syntactic role in a sentence or a paragraph. In a phrase, a slot may appear as a hole or a groove. A slot is an important tool in managing air traffic in busy airports, as multiple flights will often cause delays in each other’s flight paths. However, slots have other uses.

The pay table on a slot machine lists the credits that players receive when certain symbols line up on the screen. While some symbols can be representative of several others, slot machines rarely fail to pay the minimum payout on several pulls. The term tilt derives from the old tilt switches of electromechanical slot machines, which broke circuits when tampered. Though tilt switches are not common anymore, any technical fault is still referred to as tilt. The pay tables are found on the machine’s face, although some video machines are designed to display them in the help menu.

A computer program controls the random number generator, or RNG, in slot machines. This software cycles through thousands of numbers per second and stops when it finds a symbol corresponding to the current position. Earlier slots were based on math and statistics; a single reel had only a single symbol, while modern computer-driven slots are capable of up to 20 symbols per reel. They are also far easier to program than a mechanical slot machine. The result is that the game has a better chance of a payout.