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A qualitative analysis of the mechanical response of rate‐dependent media caused by a one‐dimensional plane smooth wave front and by a continuous wave front attenuating in the media is performed by an underdetermined system of nonlinear partial differential equations. The analysis reveals that smooth strain, particle velocity, and stress profiles, which the smooth wave front has, are not similar and that the wave front is composed of some partial waves having different properties. The property is represented by a set of strain rate, acceleration, and stress rate. The wave front derived here from the analysis is composed of four different partial waves. The front of the wave front is necessarily a contraction wave in which strain, particle velocity, and stress increase with time, while the rear is a rarefaction wave where they all decrease with time. Between these two wave fronts there are two remaining wave fronts. We call these wave fronts mesocontraction waves I and II. Wave front I is a wave in which stress decreases notwithstanding the increase in strain and particle velocity with time, which is followed by the other, i.e., wave front II, where with time, particle velocity, and stress decrease in spite of the increase in strain. The continuous wave front having continuous and nonsmooth profiles of strain, particle velocity, and stress can also be composed of four waves. These waves possess the same property as the corresponding waves in the smooth wave front mentioned above. The velocities at three boundaries that the waves have are discontinuous. Therefore, these four wave fronts are independent waves, just as a shock wave and a rarefraction wave. Specifically, the front wave, i.e., a contraction wave front is being outrun by a second wave front, the second one is being outrun by a third wave front, and the third is being outrun by a fourth wave front, i.e., a rarefaction wave. We call the second wave front degenerate contraction wave I. We also- call the third one degenerate contraction wave II. The stress‐strain path and the stress‐particle velocity path at a position in a rate‐dependent medium which is passed by the continuous wave front are schematically shown.