What does "water repellent" mean?

Fabrics that are classified as "Water Repellent" generally have been treated with a durable water repellent finish. This causes water to bead and run off of the fabric surface. The fabric is not waterproof however as standing water on the fabric will eventually seep through the fabric. It also helps keep stains from being absorbed into the fabric. 

Most coated fabrics have a water repellent finish in addition to the coating. This help the fabric shed water and keep the fabric fibers from absorbing water.