Crossword Genius

For leader shortly cooked sponge (8)


I believe the answer is:


'sponge' is the definition.
(I know that freeload is a more specific form of the action sponge)

'for leader shortly cooked' is the wordplay.
'shortly' means to remove the last letter.
'cooked' indicates an anagram (letters cooked into a new form).
'forleader' with its last letter taken away is 'forleade'.
'forleade' is an anagram of 'FREELOAD'.

(Other definitions for freeload that I've seen before include "Bum" , "Accept generosity while giving nothing in return" , "Live off somebody's generosity" , "Without giving anything in return, take" , "Take advantage without giving in return" .)

I've seen this clue in The Times.
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