Start from the vision of a suddenly broken beaded necklace, from which all beads seem to escape, falling down to the ground and bouncing away. My English is imperfect, yet a sentence I can think of would be:

The *** beads broke away from the neck of their elegant hostess.

I thought about unleashed, unchained, freed, released, yet I cannot catch this positive (like a child joy) feeling.

Is there and what is an adjective to describe how this inanimate object (bead) seems animated by free will (and freedom)?

  • 2
    I would say they "escaped".
    – Hot Licks
    May 29, 2017 at 20:19
  • 3
    You have a logical problem there. Freed beads can't break away. They have already broken away.
    – dangph
    May 30, 2017 at 2:00
  • @Drew I like unstrung a lot. Would you propose it as an answer? May 30, 2017 at 3:43
  • 1
    To be picky and literal, as is apparently my wont: your example sentence describes the beads immediately before they break away, so possibly they are not yet freed, unleashed etc.You might capture more of the exuberence of the escaping beads if you were to focus on their restraint before their freedom.
    – Spagirl
    May 30, 2017 at 10:43
  • 1
    I wanted to make basically the same point that @dangph. Because you're using the adjective on the subject, the implicit temporal sequencing is that the adjective applies to the subject before the action takes place. The beads are already "<insert your word here>" before the sentence starts. -- There's ways to compensate for this, as in JerryTheC's "suddenly liberated." The liberation is still happening before the sentence starts, but the "suddenly" implies a close spacing in time, so the liberation effectively fits in brief period of time between the previous sentence and the current one.
    – R.M.
    May 30, 2017 at 15:27

9 Answers 9


unstrung - You even get some alliteration. ;-) (You also get a double meaning, which might or might not be appropriate in context.)

Adjective: unstrung ,ún'strúng

Emotionally upset

"the incident left him unstrung and incapable of rational effort"

Verb: unstring (unstrung) ,ún'string

Remove the strings from

"unstring my guitar"

-- WordWeb

  • "Emotionally upset" does not convey a very "positive" meaning, yet I like the pun a lot May 30, 2017 at 15:14
  • 1
    If you were a bead that became unstrung you too might feel unstrung and incapable of rational effort. ;-)
    – Drew
    May 30, 2017 at 15:31

"Liberated" or "Suddenly Liberated" might work...

The suddenly liberated beads broke away from the neck of their elegant hostess.

Liberated has the connotation of freedom, release from bondage or captivity, and although it works well in the sentence above, is commonly applied to people or animals - so you also get the shading of life-like behaviour.

From Dictionary.com:

Liberate verb (used with object), liberated, liberating. 1. to set free, as from imprisonment or bondage. 2. to free (a nation or area) from control by a foreign or oppressive government. 3. to free (a group or individual) from social or economic constraints or discrimination, especially arising from traditional role expectations or bias. 4. to disengage; set free from combination, as a gas. 5. Slang. to steal or take over illegally: The soldiers liberated a consignment of cigarettes.

  • 1
    I do quite like this; "liberated" was my first though upon reading the question, although if I were to employ it would be in a sort of ironic sense. May 29, 2017 at 23:37


Emancipate: To free from bondage, oppression, or restraint; liberate.

American Heritage® Dictionary, 5th Ed.

Thus, emancipated means freed from bondage; liberated.


You might consider untethered.

to free from or as if from a tether

Like a horse that's been untethered from a post, the beads have become loose and free to scatter and roam.

tethered adj. fastened with a tether; limited, confined, ‘tied’.

  • OED

Also, on the topic of figurative language related to releasing animals, you could consider a figurative analogy related to release doves.

A release dove is a breed of rock dove (domestic pigeon) used for ceremonial release. Release doves are often used to commemorate important milestones of life and offerings of hope at weddings and birthdays and as representing the soul's final journey at funerals. They are also released at grand openings, sporting events, and many outdoor gatherings.


This question brought to mind an identical scene from the Gerald A. Browne book 18mm Blues...

...like some living thing, the necklace slid down her front and out of her lap. Proper knots prevented some of the pearls from coming loose, however a great many rolled free, scattered individually in every direction as though delighted with the prospect of escape.

  • so, are you trying to say that your answer is 'loose', because the way of describing the preceding action is to say that they 'came loose'
    – Jeutnarg
    May 30, 2017 at 16:51
  • 1
    @Jeutnarg I posted before the edit, in response to "an adjective to describe how this inanimate object (bead) seems animated by free will (and freedom)": Hence, delighted with the prospect of escape. May 30, 2017 at 17:54

The unbound beads of the hostess's necklace burst into exciting flight from her neck, like a flock of tiny birds deserting their roost for more interesting landscapes.

Unbound is the past participle of unbind

Definition of unbound:

not bound in various ways, such as:

a (1) : not fastened (2) : not confined

b : not having the leaves fastened together, e.g. an unbound book

c : not bound together with other issues, e.g. unbound periodicals

d : not held in chemical or physical combination

The joy you mention perhaps gave me a sense of permission to take poetic license. This image gave me pleasure to consider and share. I built on @RaceYouAnytime's image of rock doves being released.


In the positive sense of getting freed, (apart from the existing answer liberated), unshackled and unfettered would work too.

The unshackled/unfettered beads broke away from the neck of their elegant hostess.


tr.v. unshackled, unshackling, unshackles

  1. To remove the shackles from.
  2. To free; liberate: unshackled him from conventional thinking.

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

released from physical or mental bonds; unrestrained

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


I think instead of just one positive word, you will probably need to use multiple words that contrast restraint with exuberance.

The beads hung sedately around her neck, each pressed tightly to the other, until the thread broke and they burst forth, bouncing and leaping away in all directions.

The way you make inanimate objects seem like they're alive is with figurative language, not just one adjective or adverb. Use the same words that you would use to describe a person suddenly freed from restraint (maybe like children leaving school on the last day before summer recess).

I realize this isn't really a single word answer, but you didn't include a sample sentence for how you wanted to use the word, so you're stuck with my sentence.

  • Correct, I have added a sentence May 29, 2017 at 20:52
  • @Laurent Thanks for adding the sentence. Since my answer has likely outlived its usefulness, I will probably remove it unless I think of something better than liberated, which I think is a great choice.
    – ColleenV
    May 30, 2017 at 17:46
  • I suggest to keep it. It has been upvoted, and your "leaping" remains original May 30, 2017 at 17:59

In The Wycherly Woman, Ross MacDonald wrote: "Her pearls broke, cascading down her body, rolling in all directions on the floor." Perhaps he should have written: "Her necklace broke; pearls cascaded down her body, rolling in all directions on the floor."

  • 4
    "Her pearls" is synonymous with a pearl necklace. "I think I'll wear my pearls." is perfectly idiomatic. I think it's more interesting that MacDonald used it in both senses.
    – ColleenV
    May 30, 2017 at 11:57

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