I graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. as a math major and minors in philosophy and English literature, with only three semesters of science courses. I was and am "liberal-artsy". As professor of math at Case Western Reserve University, I had lots of colleagues in both pure and applied math who started out with B.Sc. degrees. We did not always understand each other very well!
Caveat: "Liberal-artsy" and "Narrowly Focused B.Sc. type" (I need a better name) are characteristics that people may have in varying amounts, and many professors in science and math have both characteristics. I do, myself, although I am more L.A. that B.Sc. Furthermore, I know nothing about any sociological or cognitive-science research on these characteristics. I am making it all up as I write. (This is a blog post, not a tome.)
Liberal-artsy types want to know about connections between concepts. In each post, I wrote on both common meanings of the words (secant line and function, tangent line and function) and the close connections between them. Some trig teachers / trig texts tell students about these connections but too many don't. On the other hand, many B.Sc. types are left cold by such discussions. B.Sc. types are goal-oriented and want to know a) how do I use it? b) how do I calculate it? They get impatient when you talk about anything else. I say point out these connections anyway.
L.A. types want to know about the reason for the name of a concept. The post on secants refers to the metaphor that "secant" means "cutting". This is based on the etymology of "secant", which is hidden to many students because it is based on Latin. The post makes the connection that the "original" definition of "secant" was the length of a certain line segment generated by an angle in the unit circle. The post on tangents makes an analogous connection, and also points out that most tangent lines that students see touch the curve at only a single point, which is not a connotation of the English word "touch".
Many people think they have learned something when they know the etymology of a word. In fact, the etymology of a word may have little or nothing to do with its current meaning, which may have developed over many centuries of metaphors that become dead, generate new metaphors that become dead, umpteen times, so that the original meaning is lost. (The word "testimony" cam from a Latin phrase meaning hold your testicles, which is really not related to its meaning in present-day English.)
So I am not convinced that etymologies of names can help much in most cases. In particular, different mathematical definitions of the same concept can be practically disjoint in terms of the data they use, and there is no one "correct" definition, although there may be only one that motivates the name. (There often isn't a definition that motivates the name. Think "group".) But I do know that when I mention the history of a name of a concept in class, some students are fascinated and ask me questions about it.
L.A. types are often fascinated by ETBell-like stories about the mathematician who came up with a concept, and sometimes the stories illuminate the mathematical idea. But L. A. types often are interested anyway. It's funny when you talk about such a thing in class, because some students visibly tune out while others noticeably perk up and start paying attention.
So who should you cater to? Answer: Both kinds of students. (Tell interesting stories, but quickly and in an offhand way.)
The posts on secants and tangents also experimented with using manipulable diagrams to illustrate the ideas. I expect to write about that more in another post.