Esteem is all about respect and admiration. If you have high self-esteem, it means you like yourself. When you say, "My esteemed colleagues," you are saying you have nothing but the highest respect for them.

Esteem derives from the same Latin word that gives us estimate, and back in the day, esteem, like estimate meant "to assess, or judge the value of something." That sense lingers today. When you say you hold someone in high esteem, it means you give them a high value. Unless you're a politician, in which case, when you say, "I hold my opponent in high esteem," you are most likely to follow that statement with a big "But...."

Definitions of esteem
  1. noun
    the condition of being honored (esteemed or respected or well regarded)
    “it is held in esteem
    synonyms: regard, respect
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    the state in which esteem has been lost
    high level of respect gained by impressive development or achievement
    type of:
    honor, honour, laurels
    the state of being honored
  2. noun
    an attitude of admiration or esteem
    synonyms: regard, respect
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    a disrespectful mental attitude
    estimate, estimation
    the respect with which a person is held
    report, reputation
    the general estimation that the public has for a person
    type of:
    attitude, mental attitude
    a complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways
  3. noun
    a feeling of delighted approval and liking
    synonyms: admiration
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    admiration for Britain and British customs
    hero worship
    admiration for great men (or their memory)
    admiration for Greece and the Greeks and Greek customs
    admiration for women
    type of:
    a feeling of pleasure and enjoyment
  4. verb
    regard highly; think much of
    synonyms: prise, prize, respect, value
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    disesteem, disrespect
    have little or no respect for; hold in contempt
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    think the world of
    esteem very highly
    fear, revere, reverence, venerate
    regard with feelings of respect and reverence; consider hallowed or exalted or be in awe of
    admire, look up to
    feel admiration for
    enshrine, saint
    hold sacred
    show devotion to (a deity)
    feel envious towards; admire enviously
    type of:
    consider, reckon, regard, see, view
    deem to be
  5. verb
    look on as or consider
    synonyms: look on, look upon, perceive, regard as, repute, take to be, think of
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    type of:
    believe, conceive, consider, think
    judge or regard; look upon; judge
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