op·​er·​ose ˈä-pə-ˌrōs How to pronounce operose (audio)
operosely adverb
operoseness noun

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Operose comes from the Latin operōsus, which has the meaning of "diligent," "painstaking" or "laborious." That word combines opera, meaning "activity," "effort," or "work," with -ōsus—the Latin equivalent of the English -ose and -ous suffixes, meaning "full of" or "abounding in." In its earliest uses, in the mid-16th century, the word was used to describe people who are industrious or painstaking in their efforts. About a century later, the word was being applied as it more commonly is today: as an adjective describing tasks and undertakings requiring much time and effort.

Word History


borrowed from Latin operōsus "diligent, painstaking, laborious," from opera "activity, effort, work" + -ōsus -ose entry 1 — more at opera entry 2

First Known Use

1662, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of operose was in 1662


Dictionary Entries Near operose

Cite this Entry

“Operose.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/operose. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

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