I came across the sentence like

"The ship began to move gently down the river with the out-running tide".

I checked "out-running tide" in dictionary but I can't find them. Could you teach me?

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  • 2
    The tide has ended, and the water is receding. It looks as if the excess water is "running out" of the river back into the sea. – CowperKettle Mar 5 '16 at 17:23

The out-running tide is tide which is running out. The participle-phrase can be turned into an adjective, but when that happens, the preposition, here out, is moved to the head:

When the tide is running out we can call it the out-running tide.

You won't necessarily find in a dictionary every adjective which can be formed in this manner.

Although it would be grammatical to transform almost any such phrase in this manner, if native speakers as a group don't tend to do so, the transformation would sound a little odd, or perhaps "literary". Here's an example:

His baggy trousers were slipping down.

He tightened his belt because he was wearing baggy down-slipping trousers.

enter image description here

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  • That's the best worst example I can remember seeing in a long time. :-) +1 for a great explanation. – J.R. Mar 5 '16 at 19:34

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