Could you please explain me what does "clean cut whimsy" mean? I truly have no idea. I'm trying to understand this figure of speech word by word, but it doesn't work.

The Cosby Show was wildly popular for a reason: it executed the family sitcom formula better than any other program. The stories were moralizing but plausible, the laughs were genuine, and the cast was solid from top to bottom. Though he’s become less universally beloved in his later years, Bill Cosby is undeniably one of the most talented comedians ever to grace the American stage, and he carried the show that bore his name with his finely honed brand of clean cut whimsy.



1 Answer 1


Yes, word by word does not work here. You want to consider "clean-cut":

A clean-cut man is tidy in appearance and behaves well:
• Julie's fiancé is a nice clean-cut young man.
(Cambridge Dictionary)

The hyphen is not mandatory, but it is often written that way. I assume you can understand "whimsy".

This word fits well as Cosby did dress tidily in the show, and his nature and humor were wholesome.

  • I’d be a little stronger here: the hyphen is close to mandatory. 😇 Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 1:23
  • The answer is wrong. You have to have a hyphen.
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 10:38
  • 7
    @Fattie - That's more a matter of style than correctness. As two-word phrases become stock phrases, hyphens often get dropped.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 11:38
  • The sentence makes sense without the hyphen, even if you want to be prescriptive about "clean-cut". It means that the whimsical sections of Cosby's performance were seamlessly edited (i.e. cut).
    – alephzero
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 12:13
  • 2
    @alephzero It might be grammatical that way, but it hardly makes sense in context. Would the quality of editing really have that much impact on whether a comedian is "beloved"?
    – Barmar
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 15:02

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