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Howdy!

Is there any difference in meaning between clear and clear-cut ? Here's an example of a sentence:

Most term papers for college or university courses require a clear-cut topic

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"Clear-cut" in this context means "restricted - well defined, (in the sense of) limited within boundaries." You might say the edges are clean, and not fuzzy, figuratively speaking.

"Clear" means "not confused," or something like that.
If I'm not mistaken, "clear-cut" is similar to saying that something's very obvious or easy to understand. I actually haven't head that saying in a while. "Clear" can mean the same thing, but it can also mean something that is translucent or unblemished, such as a clear glass, or clear skin.
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so actually both clear and clear-cut can have exactly the same meaning, i.e. if something is clear, or clear-cut, that means it's "easy to understand" or "presented in a way that is easy to understand" ?
Clear cut means that it's clearly distinguished from things that are similar.
Yeah, essentialy.
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so, can they be used interchangeably without any distortion of meaning? and if there is a difference, could someone please provide some examples? thx
Ha! Did you read my first post? Or GG's?

The difference between a fetus and a person is not clear-cut. (We don't know exactly where to draw the boundary.) You could substitute "clear" here, and the meaning would be almost the same.

The difference between a V-6 engine and an inline 6 engine is clear-cut. (You could substitute "clear.")

Compared to the writing of John Adams, the writing of Thomas Jefferson is clear. ("Clear-cut" would be meaningless here.)

I've read the theory of special relativity, but the concept is not at all clear to me.

Yankee's explanations of points of grammar are always very clear.

You might say that "clear-cut" is a sub-class of "clear."

I think, generally speaking (unless you're talking about deforestation), from a technical point of view, "clear-cut" doesn't actually provide any specific meaning that "clear" does not, but "clear-cut" is used in specific situations for emphasis. In other words, you deduce from the context exactly what "clear" means in the given situation. (IMHO)