PORTFOLIO (shortened form of porto folio, adapted from the Ital. porlafogli, portare, to carry, and fogli, sheets or leaves of paper, Lat. folium, leaf), a case for keeping papers, documents, prints, maps, etc., usually a leather book-cover with a flexible back. As the official documents of a state department are in the hands of the minister of that department, the word " portfolio " is frequently used figuratively of the office itself, particularly on the continent of Europe, where the " portfolio " is the symbol of office, as, in English usage, the " seals " are for the secretaryships of state. The phrase " minister without portfolio " is applied to a member of a ministry to whom no special department is assigned.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)