26 across: Just combine gout? (4)
Here, it’s combine gout = merge g out = mere = just.
Some consider the use of gout in this clue to be crossing the line into ridiculously difficult territory, but I’m OK with these kinds of clues (after I had some initial frustration) and consider them pretty easy to spot once you know to spot them. (I still consider part of words as the direct clue going too far, though, an example of which can be found in a DA crossword from December of last year).
No, the bullshit here is in the direct definition, for mere and just are not substitutable in a sentence. You might say “it’s a mere cigar”, but you have to say “it’s just a cigar” rather than “it’s a just cigar”. Conversely, you’d have to say “it’s merely a cigar”, not “it’s mere a cigar”.
Update: In what’s becoming quite the tradition, I’m corrected in the comments, this time by AL!