Portfolio Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

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A portfolio is a collection of your work that showcases your skills and abilities. Whether it’s a career portfolio, an investment portfolio, or an art portfolio, the idea is to present your goods in the best light possible. 

But what does “portfolio” really mean? It’s easy to think you understand a term that gets used all the time — but do you really know what someone means when they say “portfolio”? 

This is everything you need to know about what the word portfolio means, how it is used in the context of finance, and where the word comes from! 

What Is the Definition of Portfolio? 

In the English dictionary, a portfolio (port-fo-lio) is a collection of assets. This could include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other assets you own. 

A portfolio is also a collection of all the things you have done or have happened to you. It is a collection of your work or your life. It is a collection of your good and bad experiences — and sometimes even the ugly ones!

A portfolio is a collection of your experiences. A portfolio can be a single piece of writing, such as an essay or report; it can also include photographs and other works of art. 

In some cases, the word “portfolio” may refer specifically to documents submitted along with an application for admission into graduate school or professional school programs (such as law school).

If you look in a Thesaurus for Word Lists of Synonyms, you would likely find words including: 

  • Envelope
  • Folder
  • Briefcase
  • Flat Case
  • Financial Assets
  • Recent Work

What Is a Portfolio in the Context of Finance? 

Portfolio is a term that refers to a collection of investments, often used for asset allocation. As you may have guessed, the word portfolio comes from the French word for “book.” It’s used to describe any financial products held by an individual or institution.

The best way to think about your portfolio is as a whole: it contains all your investments and assets, from stocks and bonds to mutual funds and real estate properties (to name just a few). This can also include cash at home, another essential part of your overall wealth. 

You can even have different types of portfolios within your investment holdings. In some cases, you might want to create separate portfolios for each type of asset class that you’re interested in investing in: equities (stocks), fixed income (bonds), and real estate.

What Is a Portfolio in the Context of Art and Creative Works? 

If you’re an art student applying for a job, you’ll be asked to create an art portfolio. This is a collection of your best work demonstrating your skills and abilities. It can be as simple as one or two pieces of artwork in a folder or box, or it can be an entire book filled with drawings, paintings, collages, and other components throughout your career.

A student’s portfolio is meant to show potential employers what type of work a person can do: 

What mediums do you use? How long have you been doing this type of work? Are there any trends in your style over time? Are there common themes across different pieces (like using bright colors) that make them part of the same body of work? Do they all come from similar experiences (for example, if they were created while traveling around Europe)?

You can use an art portfolio in two ways: physically or digitally (or both). If you want to carry your portfolio with you, try making it a physical book for easy taking around in pocketbooks or bags .If not, plenty of online tools allow artists to quickly create digital portfolios.

The Etymology of the Word Portfolio

The word portfolio means “a collection or group of things.” It is derived from the French word porter, which means “to carry,” and it’s based on the Latin portāre, meaning “to carry.” Interestingly enough, these three languages are not related. 

The first recorded use of the word portfolio dates back to 1550 in France. The term was first used in British English in 1659 by Sir Thomas Browne (1605–82), an English physician who wrote several books about science and medicine. 

Browne used his medical knowledge to describe what he called a “port-follio,” which translates into “little book for carrying” or “small notebook for carrying around with one.”

Example Sentences Using the Word Portfolio

Here are some great examples of portfolio being used in an actual sentence. One of the easiest ways to learn how to use a word is by seeing it in place in real sentences, so once you get the grasp of the word in these sentences, feel free to use it on your own! 

As the minister of state, Mr. Foglio was working on the diversification of his large portfolio. 

Almost every financial institution and investment company prioritizes its portfolio management services. 

Every single different asset in the portfolio fits within the same range of products. 

When she brought her portfolio to the interview, all the loose papers fell onto the floor. 

The foreign affairs minister without portfolio management wasn’t aware of the short-term risk tolerance features we offer and lost thousands of dollars in one day. 

All of the sheets of paper in my portfolio were nicely held together. 

When looking for equivalents to my skill in photography, I looked through many people’s portfolios. 

I was able to add the role of the head of a government department to my portfolio. 


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Portfolio definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

Portfolio Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com

PORTFOLIO | Cambridge English Dictionary