As a noun, a primary meaning of respect is a sense of esteem or strong worth directed toward a particular person or entity. A person is also "held in respect" when that person is honored or revered by one or more other people.
As a verb, "respect" describes a favorable attitude someone projects toward another person or entity. Someone might say, for instance, "Despite the fact we are competitors, I highly respect John for the way he plays the game." In this example, the speaker is indicated a sense of admiration or appreciation for John's approach to playing. This term comes from a 14th century Latin word meaning the act of looking back.