"The term “preprint” most often refers to a manuscript that has gone through a peer-review process and now awaits publication in a traditional journal. A preprint accessible over the Web may also be referred to as an “e-print.” Preprints also cover papers that authors have submitted for journal publication, but for which no publication decision has been reached, or even papers electronically posted for peer consideration and comment before submission for publication. In fact, preprints can also be documents that have not been submitted to any journal."
(From Preprint Servers: Pushing the Envelope of Electronic Scholarly Publishing by Nicholas G. Tomaiuolo, Instruction Librarian and Joan G. Packer, Head of Reference. Elihu Burritt Library, Central Connecticut State University. Searcher v. 8, #9, Oct 2000)