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[pawrt-foh-lee-oh, pohrt-]
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noun, plural port·fo·li·os.
  1. a flat, portable case for carrying loose papers, drawings, etc.
  2. such a case for carrying documents of a government department.
  3. the total holdings of the securities, commercial paper, etc., of a financial institution or private investor.
  4. the office or post of a minister of state or member of a cabinet.
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Origin of portfolio

1715–25; < Italian portafoglio, equivalent to porta-, stem of portare to carry (< Latin portāre) + foglio leaf, sheet (< Latin folium; see foil2)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for portfolio


noun plural -os
  1. a flat case, esp of leather, used for carrying maps, drawings, etc
  2. the contents of such a case, such as drawings, paintings, or photographs, that demonstrate recent workan art student's portfolio
  3. such a case used for carrying ministerial or state papers
  4. the responsibilities or role of the head of a government departmentthe portfolio for foreign affairs
  5. Minister without portfolio a cabinet minister who is not responsible for any government department
  6. the complete investments held by an individual investor or by a financial organization
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Word Origin

C18: from Italian portafoglio, from portāre to carry + foglio leaf, paper, from Latin folium leaf
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for portfolio


1722, porto folio; 1719 as port folio, from Italian portafoglio "a case for carrying loose papers," from porta, imperative of portare "to carry" (see port (n.1)) + foglio "sheet, leaf," from Latin folium (see folio). Meaning "official documents of a state department" is from 1835. A minister without portfolio is one not in charge of a particular department. Meaning "collection of securities held" is from 1930; portfolio investment is from 1955.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper