¿Qué onda?, ¿Cómo están?....WAIT A SECOND!!! ¿Qué onda? Isn't "onda" the spanish word for wave?
Generally speaking, "onda" in spanish means wave, and well, a wave is "the disturbance or oscillation that travels through matter/space, accompanied by a transfer of energy."
"Hey Cris! We came here for slang spanish, not complicated physics!"....haha! Sorry, my nerdy side sometimes shows off , I can't help it!...moving forward!
Onda used in slang language, on the other hand, Is not as complicated to explain...or is it?...Well, first of all we use onda to describe a certain fashion, music or way of thinking kind of trend ...fashion wave? music wave? does it makes sense?...
One can say...."Estás en la onda" or "La onda de hoy es dejarse (crecer) la barba", with the equivalent in english for..."You are in/trendy/fashionista" and "The new thing is to grow a beard".
Other use of the word "onda" is when reffering to the actual state of someone or something, wheter is positive or negative, and I think it is better explained with an example..
"El es buena onda" (He is "cool") or also "Qué mala onda!" (How lame or uncool!).
So, ¿Qué onda?, doesn't have a specific translation but it reffers to asking , in general, how are things going (similar to ¿Qué pasa? or¿ Qué pasó? ), how someone is feeling , similar to that 2nd definition I mentioned about "cool" and "uncool".
What should I answer back?
Well, it depends. Sometimes you could just answer "Nada".(Something like answering "What's up?- Not much").
You can also answer "Todo bien, y tú, ¿qué onda?" (everything good, what about you?).
Someone could also answer 'Todo igual" (All the same) or also "Tranquis"(short for tranquilo, meaning that everything is calm or "chilling", "peachy").
Well, I hope you enjoyed this post and also hope I can read your comments, questions on this new "onda" i'm working on about slang mexican spanish!
Saludos desde Baja California, Mexico!