Transistors and diodes have (reverse) breakdown volatge ratings. What is not specified in datasheets are how long such voltages must be applied for breakdown to occur. Suppose a diode has reverse breakdown voltage of 100V. Will applying 100 V (appropriate bias) for duration of 1 ps, 1 ns, 1 us, 1ms or 1s cause breakdown ? How long breakdown voltages must be applied for breakdown to occur?
Some data sheets are more comprehensive than others. The better ones will show this information if it is relevant.
Taking the very common 1N4148 diode for example, this data sheet from Fairchild gives
For the maximum repetitive reverse voltage,it doesn't give a duration, but note the word "repetitive", which means the duration of a single pulse is irrelevant.
For the non-repetitive peak forward surge current, the duration is specified, and different currents are specified for two durations, 1 microsecond and 1 second.
For the reverse breakdown voltage, the test conditions are again specified - a non-repetitive square pulse of length 8.3 milliseconds, and two different levels of breakdown current.
On the other hand, the data sheet for a far eastern clone might not be so explicit!