- a member of a Christian sect that developed in northern Africa in a.d. 311 and maintained that it alone constituted the whole and only true church and that baptisms and ordinations of the orthodox clergy were invalid.
- a member of a schismatic heretical Christian sect originating in N Africa in 311 ad, that maintained that it alone constituted the true church
mid-15c., adherent of a Christian sect in 4c. North Africa, from Medieval Latin Donatista, from Donatus name of two of the principal men in it. The schism had more to do with episcopal succession in Carthage than with doctrine. The name is literally “bestowed, given.”