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For example, if I have a series of slots, and any number of those slots are filled, is there a generic word for that which fills a slot?

In a sentence: "I have distributed each _____ among the available slots".

The word "object" might work but I was wondering if there is a word for something that is more inherently tied to the idea of "a thing that fills a slot".

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    What's the context? What type of things and slots are you describing? (I could say ball or vegetable, but those would be wildly incorrect if neither of those things were being used.) – Jason Bassford Dec 7 '18 at 16:33
  • That's kind of my conundrum, there isn't really any further context. I'm writing a computer program to put generic objects, which could be anything, in a series of slots. But I wanted to avoid the word "object" since that already carries meaning in that context. – pmain8 Dec 7 '18 at 17:09
  • In linguistics, filler is the generic term for what goes in a notional slot. In Turkish, for instance, there are a number of suffix "slots" on nouns and verbs that can be "filled" with one of a number of morphemes. This "slot/filler" type of morphology is typical of agglutinative languages like Turkish, where most inflectional paradigms are one-dimensional. It also has a special use in Natural Language Processing. – John Lawler Dec 7 '18 at 20:34
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item [noun] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/item

"I have distributed each item among the available slots".

however that may not work if the slot is for example a slot in time

If we are using a more abstract slot such as a diary, timetable or journal

"I have distributed each entry among the available slots".

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  • Item certainly works for my purposes, but that is an interesting caveat – pmain8 Dec 7 '18 at 17:12
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Based on the fact that you have no context whatsoever, and that another answer here indicates two different words (item and entry), neither of which may be appropriate in every given context, the only word that can really apply for something so vague is one you already used in your question: thing:

[Merriam-Webster]

: an object or entity not precisely designated or capable of being designated
// use this thing

So, while not wholly satisfying, the following is the only way of covering every conceivable possibility:

"I have distributed each thing among the available slots."

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