France has banned the use of gender-neutral language in official documents, cheering defenders of linguistic tradition and angering feminists who see it as a setback for equal rights.

Word declensions in the highly regularized French language mean the ending of many words signals whether they refer to men or women, and so-called inclusive writing had been used to get around this and make some words gender-neutral.

But in a memo to ministers Tuesday, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe banned inclusive writing, saying: "In official documents, the masculine is a neutral form that should be used for terms applicable to women as well as men."