One very common problem in NetHack is being stuck to a cursed item. Cursed weapons weld themselves to your hand, cursed armor and jewelery cannot be removed, and cursed loadstones cannot be dropped. You can reduce your chances of being stuck with something cursed by testing everything with your pet or an altar, but because some monsters can curse your items, it is likely that even careful players will end up with cursed items at some point.
This page aims to list all possible ways to free yourself from a cursed item. Three general approaches, in order of preference for valuable items, are to uncurse the item, to get unstuck from it, or to simply destroy it.
Removing the curse
- Read a non-cursed scroll of remove curse, unless you are confused. An uncursed scroll will uncurse loadstones and anything worn or wielded - even if what you're wielding isn't a weapon! A blessed scroll will uncurse everything in your main inventory.
- Cast a spell of remove curse. If you're at least skilled in clerical spells, it will work like a blessed scroll. Otherwise, it will work like an uncursed scroll. You can't cast remove curse with both hands welded to a cursed two-handed weapon, and probably not while wearing a dunce cap.
- Enchant it. (This does not work for chargeable rings.)
- Dip the cursed item into a potion of holy water.
- Dip the cursed item into a fountain for a 2/15 chance. Be aware that this will wet the item and may summon a water demon or water nymph. If a long sword is converted to Excalibur by dipping, it is automatically uncursed.
- Pray. Your deity treats cursed blindfolds, towels, levitation items, two-handed weapons, and wearing both cursed weapon and cursed shield, as a major problem. Wearing any amulet of strangulation is also treated as a major problem, but you probably want to pray only if the amulet is cursed, otherwise you can just remove it. Other cursed wielded or worn items (plus loadstones and luckstones) are treated as a minor problem. If succesful, the cursed item will be uncursed, except for the amulet of strangulation, which will be destroyed. If both weapon and shield are cursed, only the weapon will be uncursed. There is also a chance that you will be "surrounded by a light blue aura" and have everything in your inventory uncursed, if you pray with sufficient luck.
- Wield it, and step on a magic trap. There is a 1/20 chance of this acting like an uncursed scroll of remove curse. Be careful, because the most common effect of a magic trap is to blind you and summon monsters. Don't deliberately wield cursed weapons.
- Zap a wand or spell of cancellation at the object. Use . to zap cancellation at yourself — drop everything you don't want cancelled before doing this. This will also set the item's enchantment to zero.
Removing the item
- Drop everything else and let a nymph steal the cursed item. You can then hunt her down to retrieve it, if desired.
- If the cursed object is armor, let an incubus or succubus remove it.
- If the cursed object is causing you to levitate, float over a sink. You will crash to the floor, and the item will be removed, although it will remain cursed.
- Loadstones only: drop everything but the loadstone, a wand of digging and your armor, enter a shop, pick up something in the shop, and dig through the floor. The shopkeeper will "grab your backpack", i.e. take your inventory, including the loadstone but except worn or wielded items.
- If the cursed object is armor or a weapon, polymorph into something that can't wear armor or wield weapons. If you have a choice, go for a small monster so that the armor isn't destroyed. Changing into were-form also works; werewolves will destroy armor they are wearing, while werejackals and wererats will shrink out of it.
- If the cursed object is armor, dip it in a potion of polymorph. It will either shudder or be removed.  A comment in the source hints this may change in future versions ("for now, take off worn items being polymorphed").
Destroying the item
- If the cursed object is armor that you don't mind losing, take off all other armor and read a noncursed scroll of destroy armor.
- High-level spellcasting monsters can destroy armor which works if you're not magic resistant, in the order cloak, suit, shirt, helmet, gloves, boots, shield, but watch out for their other spells such as touch of death, or indeed, curse items, which will end up making you go backwards.
- Disintegrating breath (from a black dragon) can destroy some armors.
- If the cursed object is a metal or wooden ring and you don't mind gaining its intrinsic: Polymorph into a form that can, and eat it.
- Stone to flesh will convert a loadstone or some cursed rings to food. Drop all other gemmed rings, marble wands or gems beforehand to prevent them from being affected.
- If the cursed object is a ring, shock may cause it to explode, but may also explode useful rings and wands.
- Overenchant and vaporize it. You can also underenchant and vaporize items with cursed scrolls of enchant foo, if the enchantment is negative enough.
- Similarly, you can overcharge a chargeable ring until it explodes. This is probably a waste of scrolls of charging. (In SLASH'EM you can also pay a shopkeeper to do this.)
- A boomerang welded to your hand may be destroyed as you bash monsters with it in melee.
- Dip the cursed item into a potion of polymorph. The item will transform into a new item of the same class, still cursed. Armor and jewelery will be no longer worn, and loadstones will become droppable, but weapons will still be welded to your hand.
In SLASH'EM, you can pay a shopkeeper to uncurse an item.