I see many posts by several different people referring to spacetime being "locally flat" with the intended meaning of being locally indistinguishable from Minkowski space, i.e., being able to rewrite the metric on orthonormal form and not being able to measure curvature on some local scale. I do not think this is an appropriate nomenclature and the more appropriate nomenclature would be to refer to a local inertial frame. I am aware that some textbook authors, such as Schutz, use the term in this way as well. These are (some of) my issues with the terminology:
- "Local flatness" is typically defined in a different manner in topology, where it is a property of a submanifold. The entire point of using differential geometry is that spacetime can be described without reference to it being a submanifold of some higher-dimensional space.
- Not withstanding the previous point, we otherwise use "local" to describe a property that is only true in a point or in a neighbourhood of that point. "Flat" refers to the curvature being zero. Putting those two together as "locally flat" would therefore typically mean that the curvature at the given event (or neighbourhood) would be zero. This is not generally true as curvature invariants can be computed to be non-zero even though there are local inertial frames at all events.
- There exists other alternative terminology to describe precisely the ideas that "locally flat" intends to convey. The existence of a "local inertial frame" or similar comes to mind.