The discovery and development of isoform-selective histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor is a challenging task because of the sequence homology among HDAC enzymes. In the present work, novel tetrahydro benzo[b]thiophene-3-carbonitrile based benzamides were designed, synthesized, and evaluated as HDAC inhibitors. Pharmacophore modeling was our main design strategy, and two novel series of tetrahydro benzo[b]thiophene-3-carbonitrile derivatives with piperidine linker (series 1) and piperazine linker (series 2) were identified as HDAC inhibitors. Among all the synthesised compounds, 9h with 4-(aminomethyl) piperidine linker and 14n with piperazine linker demonstrated good activity against human HDAC1 and HDAC6, respectively. Both the compounds also exhibited good antiproliferative activity against several human cancer cell lines. Both these compounds (9h and 14n) also induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in U937 and MDA-MB-231 cancer cells. Overall, for the first time, this research discovered potent isoform-selective HDAC inhibitors using cyclic linker instead of the aliphatic chain and aromatic ring system, which were reported in known HDAC inhibitors. © 2021 Elsevier Inc.