I came across this word in Garrison Keillor’s column available on the Internet. (I still like Keillor’s writing, no matter what he is accused of. I think he was quite right at his age to simply retire, rather than fight the charges that could consume the rest of his life.)
He is not one to throw around obscure words as Bill Buckley used to, so I thought I had better learn to use it. The big obstacle is the spelling. Anyone should know from the start that a word that begins with “oeu” is going to be a bear to spell. Of course, it is French.
Oeuvre is the total, lifetime body of work of a writer, an artist, or a composer. It is pronounced sort of like “OH-vra,” but get it wrong and no one will correct you. Close is good enough for a French word. I have often heard it used in a sarcastic manner for the body of work of someone totally non-artistic, such as a businessman’s collection of spreadsheets. (So that’s your oeuvre?)