Crossword Genius

Severe judge imprisons learner … (5)


I believe the answer is:


'severe' is the definition.

'judge imprisons learner' is the wordplay.
'judge' becomes 'beak' (**).
'imprisons' means one lot of letters goes inside another.
'learner' becomes 'l'.
'beak' going around 'l' is 'BLEAK'.

(Other definitions for bleak that I've seen before include "Exposed to the elements" , "Unpleasantly cold" , "Desolate, hopoeless" , "Stark" , "''... House'' (Dickens)" .)

I've seen this clue in The Guardian.
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