[pawrt-foh-lee-oh, pohrt-]
noun, plural portfolios.
a flat, portable case for carrying loose papers, drawings, etc.
such a case for carrying documents of a government department.
the total holdings of the securities, commercial paper, etc., of a financial institution or private investor.
the office or post of a minister of state or member of a cabinet.

1715–25; < Italian portafoglio, equivalent to porta-, stem of portare to carry (< Latin portāre) + foglio leaf, sheet (< Latin folium; see foil2)

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World English Dictionary
portfolio (pɔːtˈfəʊlɪəʊ)
n , pl -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 work: an 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 department: the 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
[C18: from Italian portafoglio, from portāre to carry + foglio leaf, paper, from Latin folium leaf]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1722, from It. portafoglio "a case for carrying loose papers," from porta, imperative of portare "to carry" (see port (1)) + foglio "sheet, leaf," from L. folium (see folio). Meaning "collection of securities held" is from 1930.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Their portfolios are filled with crisp, clean shots of the skaters.
Second, healthcare venture funds that survived the crash had full portfolios of
  companies burning cash at alarming rates.
Broadly speaking, investors in developed economies hold highly diversified
  portfolios, with significant portions in equities.
Greed has destroyed many portfolios, wiped out many dreams and wreaked havoc.
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