1. Industrious, busy
2. done with much labor; tedious; wearisome
Etymology: 1600s, from Latin operosus, "laborious, industrius", from opus, "work"
As I trolled Google Books in search of an example of the word, I ran across a reference to an operose agriculture, one where all the tilling was done on foot. This reminded me of a running joke a friend and I have regarding "grinding toil" - I think the phrase joined our vocabulary by way of a book explaining the joy of planting one's front yard to grain, then harvesting, milling, and baking the grain to make a loaf of bread. This is an operose method of feeding oneself, which would certainly give one a greater appreciation of the labor involved in generating such a basic item (while also avoiding ergot poisoning), and an understanding of why industrialization became so popular.