Terrible was launched in 1933 and displaced 2,570 tonnes with 74,000 HP. She became the fastest destroyer ever when she reached 45.1 knots during trials in 1935. On 25 October 1939, along with her sister-ship Fantasque, she captured the German cargo ship Santa Fe. She took part in the battle of Mers-el-Kebir on 3 July 1940, exiting the harbour and engaging the British fleet. She attempted to torpedo large British units, but was recalled to escort the Strasbourg back to Toulon. Terrible took part in the Battle of Dakar in September 1940.
Shortly after Operation Torch, French West Africa and its fleet, including Terrible, turned to the Allies. In March 1943, she entered a major refit and modernisation in Boston, where she was fitted with two radars, a new ASDIC, new anti-air gunnery and other improvements. She was then reclassified "light cruiser" to match Allied standards, and was sent to the Mediterranean theater of war. She took part in Allied invasion of Italy, bombarding shore targets and repelling German planes. On 13 December 1943, she landed 250 men in Ajaccio. In 1944, she formed the 10th Light Cruiser Division, along with her sister-ships Fantasque and Malin, attacking Axis convoys in swift night actions. In August, she took part in Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of south France. In December, she was heavily damaged in a collision with the Malin, which left her under repair until 1945.
After the war, Terrible was put in the reserve, and reclassified as "swift escort" to match NATO standards, with pennant number D611. She served as an escort to the French carriers La Fayette (R96), Bois Belleau (R97) and Arromanches (R 95). From 1956, she was used as a training ship in Brest, and she was eventually scrapped in June 1962.