This paper investigates semantic relations in semantic change, word formation, and borrowing in the etymological histories of 480 German nouns of basic vocabulary. Contiguity is shown to be the most frequent semantic relation, followed by taxonomy, confirming previous research. The use of diachronic data and analysis by multiple factors however demonstrate that the choice of the kind of semantic relation in creating new lexical meanings is strongly dependent on various aspects. Those include the part of speech of the words involved, the semantic field of the concepts, and whether the semantic relation is found in normal semantic change, in semantic change accompanying borrowing from another language, or in word formation, in the last case further dependent on the kind of word formation. Additionally, significant differences are found between attested and reconstructed parts of etymologies, providing insights into possible points of improvement for semantic reconstruction.