As Huffington Post points out, in John Seabrook's new book of pop music history, The Song Machine, he explains that the track's Swedish writers Max Martin and Rami Yacoub believed that "hit" was American slang for "call." And so the song about the heartache of a recent breakup turned to a hit with the public perhaps a bit confused but none the wiser.
The song had originally been called "Hit Me Baby (One More Time)" but Spears' label Jive Records felt a bit uncomfortable about the suggestion of abuse and removed "Hit Me" from the title.
JJ Watt Tells Britney Spears Why '...Baby One More Time' Inspires Him at the ESPYs: Watch
Coincidentally, earlier this week another teenybopper mystery of that era was solved in another Huffington Post interview with *NSYNC's Joey Fatone explaining how the seminal boy band got the star in its name. Turns out it was at the suggestion of Israeli illusionist Uri Geller sparked from his interest in the power of symbolism.
"We sat down and I wrote, on a napkin, NSYNC, and I drew a star in the cafe [in London's Covent Garden]." Geller said, "And I told them, if they place that star on their first CD, they're going to shoot up to No. 1." (Their debut wound up hitting No. 2 on the Billboard 200, but we'll call it close enough.)
Seems the only other mystery left is which backstreet that other boy band came from.