What is the meaning of following sentence?
He is highly thought of in racing.
When the moderator mentioned his books, saying that they were highly thought of by scholars...
She is highly thought of person.
Festival is highly thought of.
When I looked it up in Cambridge Dictionary, it redirects me to another term "well thought of" ,which means
considered by other people as good; admired, and approved of
On the other hand, Free Dictionary says it means "popular."
Although they are similar words in terms of meaning, I wonder how to use it correctly. Apparently not every dictionary contains a definition for the term so it may be archaic.
I wonder if I can say that it means "renowned" when it is used for people, while it may mean "popular" when it is used for things such as book, a play or song. Unfortunately the word popular does not connote good every time or recently because it may be said popular does not mean it is good quality, on the contrary it may mean the opposite, cheap and shallow.