“Take a Hit”, verb phrase: In business and finance, to suffer an adverse result or outcome. In this context, it is something to be avoided. In cannabis culture, to inhale (i.e. to take a drag, puff, or toke) of a marijuana cigarette (a.k.a. joint, spliff, blunt, or roach). In this context, it is something sought after. The dual meaning and diametric connotation can potentially confuse and ensnare the neophyte junior analyst at a hedge fund or investment bank, if he is not used to keeping his personal and professional lives separate.
Usage Note: Finance and business types use this phrase usually when money is lost in one way or another, often with an element of surprise. For example, a CEO (such as Ron Johnson of recent JC Penney fame) trying to explain a 20% decline in sales year-over-year might say, “We underestimated the number of customers we would lose by changing our pricing strategy from discount to premium luxury over a single weekend. Our revenues took a hit as a result.”
Bankers and Traders love to use the term because of its violent imagery, making them feel tough when in reality it’s only fiat money that was lost; no actual blood was spilt in the process. The term will be bandied about with jocular whim so long as it’s someone else’s money. At a hedge fund, if your competitor suffered large redemptions, you’d light onto the trading floor in upbeat step to banter with your minions about how the suckers at the other ‘shop’ “took a hit”.
The prime instance when the phrase turns sour for those in finance-land is when year-end rolls around and the bonus numbers come out. At the “All-Hands” meeting (usually on the day of the firm’s Christmas party) more than once in your career as a Wall Street geek, you will hear the group head talking about how costs increased this year (due to any number of vague, inscrutable reasons) and therefore “the bonus pool is going to take a hit. But you guys have done a remarkable job and we expect next year to be better. Now, let’s go have some egg nog.”