According to William of Malmesbury, Ethelred defecated in the baptismal font as a child, which led St. Dunstan to prophesy that the English monarchy would be overthrown during his reign. This story is, however, almost certainly a fabrication.
Ethelred succeeded to the throne aged about ten following the death of his father King Edgar and subsequent murder of his half-brother Edward the Martyr. His nickname "The Unready" .
does not mean that he was ill-prepared, but derives from the Anglo-Saxon unræd meaning "poorly counselled" or "indecisive". This could also be interpreted as a pun on his name, Æþelræd, which may be understood to mean "noble counsel" in Old English