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First the context. There are two similar words that cannot be confused:

  1. Millar  →  Conjunto de mil unidades.  →  Set of one thousand elements.
  2. Millón  →  Mil millares.  →  One million.

I've seen a couple of times the word millar used when millón should be used, I think because the former is less used since there are other ways to express its meaning, e.g.:

Millares de personas salieron a las calles
Miles de personas salieron a las calles

both meaning:

Thousands of people marched on the streets.

My question is the following:

Is it advisable to use miles instead of millares to avoid confusion, or is their difference actually understood among Spanish speaking people?

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I changed the question to adjust the formatting. If you want to further change it, you can obviously. But I suggest not to use too much formatting with big titles, bold, emphasis everywhere... –  Alenanno Dec 7 '11 at 21:45
    
No problem at all with your edits. I think my question is now clearer :) –  Nicolás Dec 7 '11 at 21:53
    
I think for most native speakers "millares" and "miles" both mean approximately the same ... and I don't understand your question. –  belisarius Dec 7 '11 at 22:37
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2 Answers

I think both mean the same: several thousands.

I think miles is more used because it is shorter and it cannot be confused with millones.

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Native spanish speakers know the difference between a "millar" and a "millón"; it's a common word, so you shouldn't use one or another for fear of confusion (except perhaps if the chance of mishearing is high: in a factory with loud noise or when speaking through a mobile phone with poor reception). No problem at all in a written medium.

About what you should use, theoretically both could be used interchangeably. I would say, and please notice that this is a subjective opinion, that "millares" is a more learned, even a bit snobbish word; I wouldn't use it in everyday language, except if I wanted to give emphasis to the idea of a big number.

I'd say "millares" is more common in written media, but again, you could use both mostly interchangeably.

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